With the NHL draft approaching on Sunday, June 30, teams have their draft boards mostly finalized and their key prospect targets in mind. Here are some of the key storylines or rumors buzzing around as we head into draft day.
Russian winger Valeri Nichushkin may be the most interesting prospect heading into draft day. ESPN's Craig Custance wrote a column discussing him as the wild card at the top of the draft, and that's a very appropriate description. I've heard a few NHL scouts say they believe Nichushkin will fall past Edmonton at No. 7, while numerous other sources feel he will go in the top four.
When asked by the Russian publication R-Sport where he thinks he will be picked, Nichushkin said, "I know that Tampa Bay and Nashville want to choose me."
The Lightning seem to be the most likely candidate to take the gamble on Nichushkin. Their chief scout, Al Murray, has spoken glowingly about the young prospect, and several sources believe Tampa Bay is strongly considering him at the No. 3 spot.
When Custance asked GM Steve Yzerman about the passport-related issues that complicate the selection of many recent Russian prospects, he responded, "You're competing against the rest of the league for players. You shouldn't exclude anyone in the world, in my opinion
I look at the Swedish players, the Russian players we had success with in Detroit.