The NHL draft will not take place until the last weekend in June, but we will get a preview from the scouting combine taking place this week, Monday-Saturday.
The three most talked about prospects are Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, center from the WHL's Red Deer Rebels; Adam Larsson, the defenseman from the Swedish Elite League and Gabriel Landeskog, left wing from the OHL's Kitchener Rangers.
This week will be a chance for prospects to prove themselves in the hopes of moving up draft picks.
The draft picks will likely change following this week's combine, and the draft order does not become official until after the Stanley Cup Final.
However, most of the order is set so here is a mock draft of the entire first round of the 2011 NHL draft.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the top-ranked prospect for the 2011 NHL draft.
The Edmonton Oilers have the number one pick in the draft again this year. The Oilers are in need of defense, however its too hard to pass up Nugent-Hopkins.
Nugent-Hopkins was tied for third in scoring in the WHL this past season. He tallied 31 goals and 75 assists for a total 106 points.
Nugent-Hopkins and last year's No. 1 pick Taylor Hall could make an impressive pair eventually for the Oilers.
The Colorado Avalanche could choose Adam Larsson with the second pick, however, they are in need of some point-scoring potential.
Plus, they have another pick at No. 11 from the trade with St. Louis.
They should snag Gabriel Landeskog from the Kitchener Rangers.
Landeskog tallied 66 points for the Rangers this past season, 36 goals and 30 assists.
The Florida Panthers also could choose Adam Larsson, but they too need offense more than defense.
The Panthers should choose Jonathan Huberdeau from the QMJHL. Huberdeau is ranked third amongst North American skaters, behind Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Gabriel Landeskog.
Huberdeau scored 105 points for the Sea Dogs, including 43 goals. In 19 playoff games, Huberdeau tallied 30 points.
He has already caught the eye of KHL scouts, being drafted in the KHL Draft. Huberdeau has expressed that he will not go to the KHL though.
He should garner early interest in the NHL draft as well.
With the first three teams choosing forwards, the New Jersey Devils, looking for defense, will select the top defenseman in the Draft: Adam Larsson.
Larsson has spent the last two years with Skelleftea AIK of the Swedish Elite League. This past season, Larsson tallied one goal and eight assists.
He has also played internationally for Sweden, most recently in the 2011 U-20 World Junior Championship, where he scored one goal and three assists in six games.
At 6'3" and 220 pounds, Larsson brings size to the table as well.
Larsson would be a great pickup for New Jersey.
The New York Islanders are also looking for defense. With Adam Larsson off the market, the Isles will go for the second-best choice in Dougie Hamilton.
He led his team in the regular season and through the first round of the playoffs in point scoring.
This past regular season, Hamilton tallied 58 points, 12 of them goals. He finished fourth in scoring among defenseman in the OHL.
Hamilton has size on his side, at 6'4", but is a fast skater as well.
The Ottawa Senators are looking to rebuild on both offense and defense.
With the sixth pick in the 2011 NHL draft, they should pick Sean Couturier of the QMJHL. Couturier is ranked sixth amongst North American skaters in this year's draft class.
Couturier was voted the Best Professional Prospect in the QMJHL this year, as well as the league MVP.
It's easy to see why.
Couturier scored 96 points this past season, the second straight year he has done so. Those 96 points included 36 goals and 60 assists.
Couturier could be an asset to the Senators.
The Atlanta Thrashers franchise should draft Ryan Strome of the OHL with the seventh draft pick.
Strome is ranked eighth amongst North American skaters.
Strome was third in the league in scoring this past season, with 106 points, a huge improvement over his previous season of 27 points.
Those 106 points included 33 goals and 73 assists.
*or whatever the franchise will be known as by then
The Columbus Blue Jackets have been desperate to add on defense.
They should use their first-round pick to draft a solid defenseman, one that they can cultivate into a star blueliner for the future.
Their best choice is Ryan Murphy of the OHL.
Murphy was a standout this past season for the Kitchener Rangers, scoring 79 points in addition to his contributions on defense.
Murphy could be an excellent addition to the Blue Jackets blue line.
The Boston Bruins acquired the Toronto Maple Leafs' ninth spot in a trade. The Bruins should use the pick to draft a top defensive prospect.
Nathan Beaulieu, fifth-ranked amongst North American skaters, should be their selection.
Beaulieu holds the Saint John Sea Dogs record for plus/minus ranking, with a rating of plus-44 this past season.
Additionally, Beaulieu led his team's defensemen in scoring, tallying 45 points.
Beaulieu should learn quickly and move up to the NHL, as he works out during the summers with other young NHL defensemen Los Angeles King Drew Doughty and Washington Capital John Carlson.
The Minnesota Wild should use their first-round pick to draft a center. A good option is Mika Zibanejad of the Swedish Elite League.
Zibanejad is ranked second amongst European Skaters, first for European forwards.
Zibanejad spent half of this past season playing for Djurgarden's J20 team, but after scoring 21 points, was called up to the SEL team in December.
He remained on the roster and ranked third amongst players 18 and younger on the team in scoring.
The Finnish forward would fit in well on the Minnesota Wild.
The Colorado Avalanche acquired their second pick in the first round from the St. Louis Blues in the trade that sent defenseman Erik Johnson to the Avs.
Perhaps the Avalanche should use the pick to draft another young defenseman to eventually help Johnson on D.
A good choice is Duncan Siemens of the WHL.
At 6'3", 200 pounds, Siemens would be a great addition to any defense, including the Avs.
In addition to being an intimidating defensive presence for the Blades, Siemens contributed on offense, scoring 43 points this past season.
The Carolina Hurricanes should use their first-round draft pick for a winger. Sven Bartschi of the WHL is a top choice.
Bartschi is ranked seventh amongst North American skaters and is among the top wingers in his draft class.
Bartschi was the 2010-11 WHL Western Conference Rookie of the Year, as he led all rookies in the league in scoring, with 85 points, 34 of them goals.
Before going to the WHL, Bartschi played his homeland of Switzerland, in the Swiss National League B.
Bartschi is a top prospect, who should only get better with more North American hockey experience.
The Calgary Flames should use their first-round pick to draft a winger. Joel Armia of Finland's Porin Assat is a great choice.
Armia is ranked fourth amongst European skaters, the second forward and first winger on the list.
Armia scored 29 points this past season, his first season with the club. At 6'3", he is a big, physical presence as well.
He is a good prospect for the Flames.
The Dallas Stars could use a center in the draft, as they are unsure if they will be able to re-sign one of their current centers (Brad Richards) tis offseason.
A good selection for the Stars is Mark McNeill of the WHL.
At 6'2", 201 pounds, McNeill is a big center, bigger than Richards.
McNeill helped the Raiders to their first playoff berth. He was second on his team in scoring during the regular season, with 81 points, 32 of those goals.
McNeill could be an excellent addition to the Stars for years to come.
The New York Rangers could use a center in the first round of the draft. A good choice is Zack Phillips of the QMJHL.
Phillips finished this past season tied for sixth in QMJHL scoring with 95 points, 38 of them goals.
He is good both ways, finishing the season with a plus/minus rating of plus-48, tying him for third in the league.
Phillips would be a great selection for the Rangers.
The Buffalo Sabres should select a center with their first pick in the draft. Mark Scheifele of the OHL is a good choice.
Scheifele finished fourth in OHL rookie scoring with 75 points, first in assists with 53. Scheifele stepped his game up at the end of the season, as half of his goals came in the final 18 games of the season.
Scheifele represented Canada at the 2011 U-18 World Juniors Championship. He led the Canadian forwards with eight points in seven games and was named one of the team's best players in the tournament.
Scheifele would be an excellent addition to the Sabres.
The Montreal Canadiens should use their first-round draft pick to select a winger. Nicklas Jensen of the OHL is a good choice.
Jensen plays both left wing and right wing.
Jensen came in fifth in the league in rookie scoring with 58 points, 29 goals and 29 assists. He finished fourth on his team in scoring.
Before joining the OHL, Jensen played in the top Danish league and was awarded the Rookie of the Year.
Jensen could be a great choice for the Canadiens.
The Chicago Blackhawks should use their first-round draft pick to draft a center. Boone Jenner is one of the best centers remaining.
At 6'1", 204 pounds, Jenner makes a big, physical center.
Jenner finished the season third on the Generals in scoring, with 66 points. During the 2009-10 season, Jenner was the runner-up in Rookie of the Year voting, finishing second in rookie scoring.
Jenner could be a good asset for the Blackhawks.
The Edmonton Oilers acquired their second pick in the first round from the Los Angeles Kings in a trade.
The Oilers should use their second pick to acquire a top defenseman, and there will still be plenty on the market.
Their best choice with this pick is Jamieson Oleksiak, the first collegiate player in the draft.
His freshman season, Oleksiak finished first on his team in plus/minus rating as a plus-13 and second in scoring amongst defensemen with 12 points.
Oleksiak would be a great choice for the Oilers.
The Phoenix Coyotes should use their first pick in the draft for a winger. A top choice is Brandon Saad of the OHL.
Saad finished this past season second on his team in goals, with 27, and 55 total points.
Saad was a member of the gold-winning U.S. Men's National Team at the 2010 U-18 World Championships. He played on the U.S. U-18 National Development Team Program during the 2009-10 season and led the team with 58 points.
Saad could be a great addition to the Coyotes.
The Ottawa Senators acquired their second first-round pick from the Nashville Predators in a trade.
They should use this pick to draft a winger. Phillip Danault of the QMJHL is a good option.
Danault tallied 67 points this past season, 23 goals and 44 assists.
He's a good two-way forward as well; he was recognized for his defensive skills as the 2010-11 recipient of the Guy Carbonneau Trophy, the best defensive forward in the QMJHL.
Danault would be a good choice for the Senators.
The Anaheim Ducks should use their first-round pick to draft center Vladislav Namestnikov of the OHL.
This past season was Namestnikov's first in the OHL. He led his team in goals, 30, and plus/minus rating, plus-12. He finished the season with 68 total points.
Namestnikov played for Russia at the 2010 U-18 World Championships and tied for the team lead in goals during the seven games they played. He scored five goals and a total seven points.
With a little more North American hockey experience, Namestnikov could be a good addition to the Ducks.
With their first-round draft pick, the Pittsburgh Penguins should select a winger. A good option is Tomas Jurco of the QMJHL.
Jurco helped the Saint John Sea Dogs reach the QMJHL Final, scoring 16 points in 13 games. He scored 56 points during the regular season, 31 of them goals.
Despite only playing in juniors, Jurco has already become a YouTube sensation for his shootout stickhandling.
Jurco will be a star in the NHL one day and could possibly be a great winger for Sidney Crosby.
Legendary Detroit Red Wing defenseman Brian Rafalski just announced that he is retiring. Rafalski is irreplaceable, but the Red Wings will need to try to draft defenseman to one day take his place.
They can start by drafting Jonas Brodin in the first round.
Brodin is ranked third amongst European skaters, second for defensemen. He scored four points for his team this past season.
He has won two silver medals playing for Sweden in the U-18 World Junior Championships.
He could become a great NHL defenseman, perhaps under fellow Swedish defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom's tutelage?
The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired this pick from the Philadelphia Flyers in a trade. The Leafs should use this pick to draft a winger.
A top choice is Tyler Biggs of the USA U-18 team.
Biggs scored 28 points this past season, 17 goals.
He has also won two gold medals at the U-18 World Junior Championships, in 2010 and 2011. During the 2011 tournament, Biggs scored the OT game-winning goal in the semifinal against Canada.
Biggs could eventually be a good addition to the Leafs.
The Washington Capitals have several forwards entering free agency this July, and it is likely they won't be re-signing some of them.
They should sign a forward in the first round. Alexander Khokhlachev is a good choice, as he plays both left wing and center.
Khokhlachev scored 76 points this past season, 34 of them goals.
Plus, he's Russian, he could do well alongside Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin. Yes, the Capitals definitely need a third Russian Alex.
The Tampa Bay Lightning could use some defense during the draft. They should draft Joseph Morrow of the WHL with their first-round pick.
Morrow could be the biggest steal of the draft.
This past season, Morrow led his team's defensemen in points, scoring 49, 18 more points than he had scored the previous season.
Morrow has been overshadowed by teammates Sven Bartschi and Ty Rattie in Portland, and in the draft is overshadowed by top defensive prospects Adam Larsson, Dougie Hamilton, Nathan Beaulieu, Ryan Murphy and Duncan Siemens.
However, the team that drafts Morrow will get an excellent defenseman.
The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired the Boston Bruins first-round draft pick in a trade. Since they had other first-round draft picks as well, they should use this pick to draft a top goaltender.
That goaltender is top-ranked North American goaltender John Gibson.
Gibson won gold with the U.S. team at the 2011 U-18 WJC, winning back-to-back overtimes against Canada and then Sweden for the gold.
Gibson also impressed at the 2010 World U-17 Challenge, winning gold with a 1.33 GAA and .957 save percentage. During the gold-medal game, he stopped 38-of-39 shots.
Gibson could eventually become the reliable goaltender the Leafs have been looking for.
The San Jose Sharks should use their first-round pick to draft a winger. A good option is Ty Rattie of the WHL.
Rattie helped his team finish first in the Western Conference for the first time in 10 years. He finished fourth on the team in points with 79, including 28 goals.
He represented Canada at the 2010 World U-17 Challenge, finishing as the leading Canadian scorer with nine points.
Rattie could be a good addition to the Sharks.
The Vancouver Canucks should use their first-round pick to draft a center. A good prospect is Jonathan Miller of the USA U-18 team.
At the 2011 U-18 World Championships, Miller was the U.S. leading scorer in the tournament, tallying 13 points. He was named as one of the team's top three players for his efforts.
During the 2010-11 regular season, Miller finished third on his team in scoring with 37 points and second on his team with assists, 26.
Miller could be a good choice for the Canucks.