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2012 NHL Entry Draft Preview
By Dan Di Sciullo, NHL Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The National Hockey League will hold its annual Entry Draft this weekend at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, and the Edmonton Oilers, who are holding the No. 1 overall pick for a third straight year, will get the event started once again on Friday evening.

The Oilers picked Taylor Hall with the top selection in 2010 and last year they used the No. 1 spot to nab Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. This year, the consensus top prospect is Russian winger Nail Yakupov and the big question is whether Edmonton will use its No. 1 selection or trade down.

The dilemma for the Oilers is that Yakupov is another forward just like Hall and Nugent-Hopkins. Even though Yakupov is expected to be a can't-miss prospect, the Oilers are clearly a team that desperately could use defensive help rather than another young offensive talent.

After Yakupov, this year's draft is expected to be deep in terms of defensemen available, although scouts seem to believe there isn't a blueliner that stands out above the rest. Still, Ryan Murray, Mathew Dumba, Morgan Rielly, Jacob Trouba are among the several defensemen that are expected to go early in the first round on Friday.

The 2012 draft also projects as one of the stronger goaltender classes in recent years. Canadian backstop Malcom Subban -- younger brother of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban -- is expected to go in the first round and European netminders Andrei Vasilevski and Oscar Dansk could also get selected on Day 1 of the draft.

The most intriguing unknown heading into every draft is how actively teams will pursue or entertain trades. The Oilers may choose to set the tone early at this year's draft weekend by dealing the top pick, but of course, the team is playing its cards close to the vest.

The second pick in this year's draft belongs to Columbus, which may also be busy trying to make a deal this weekend. The Blue Jackets are still shopping Rick Nash -- a former No. 1 overall pick by Columbus in 2002 -- and the draft is where a deal to land the star winger may actually happen.

Two of the NHL's Original Six franchises are holding top-five selections in this year's draft. The Montreal Canadiens are currently in the third spot and the Toronto Maple Leafs are two spots behind with the fifth selection. Sitting between the two storied clubs is the New York Islanders, who are picking fourth this year to mark the team's fifth straight draft with a top-10 selection.

The first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft will begin Friday evening at 7 p.m. (et) and rounds 2-7 will start on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. (et). The entire first-round order is as follows:

1. Edmonton
2. Columbus
3. Montreal
4. NY Islanders
5. Toronto
6. Anaheim
7. Minnesota
8. Carolina
9. Winnipeg
10. Tampa Bay
11. Washington (from COL)
12. Buffalo
13. Dallas
14. Calgary
15. Ottawa
16. Washington
17. San Jose
18. Chicago
19. Tampa Bay (from DET)
20. Philadelphia
21. Buffalo (from NAS)
22. Pittsburgh
23. Florida
24. Boston
25. St. Louis
26. Vancouver
27. Phoenix
28. NY Rangers
29. New Jersey
30. Los Angeles

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