For the third consecutive season the Montreal 100's were first to the podium, and this year, Le Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge hope to make it count.
13 teams have returned, including the defending Stanley Cup Champion Saginaw Spirit. Six new teams have also joined in what is projected to be a fiercely competitive campaign.
Alex Ovechkin going 1st was a forgone conclusion. The rest of the draft was sprinkled with surprises - some auto-pick related, and some actually worth mentioning.
Round 1: Malkin and Datsyuk going 2nd and 3rd overall paved the way for Saginaw to reclaim goalie Niklas Backstrom. Marc Savard and Zdeno Chara were also picked, bumping some marquee goalies to Round 2 as a result.
Round 2: Tomas Vokoun hanging around until the 31st overall pick blows my mind. Vokoun (.926%) ranked second in save percentage last year. Portland Pints fans rejoice.
Round 3: No jaw-dropping picks here, but I was a bit surprised to see Patrick Marleau (11th in goals scored last year) go 50th overall. Youngster Claude Giroux might have been available in a later round, but he could prove to be a steal for the Wall Flowers.
Round 4: Wunderkind John Tavares was plucked 76th overall by Montreal. Short term overpayment, long term gem.
Round 5: Craig Anderson is a major dark horse for 2009. He had the third best save percentage last season (.924%), but has never played more than 31 games.
Round 8: John Tavares goes in the 4th and no Stamkos until the 8th? What a keeper bargain for the Mount Vernon Blades who get a young center on the verge of stardom.
Round 10: Bryan Little (Ilya Kovalchuk's center) must have used his small stature to avoid detection until the 10th round. Robbery for Yucca Valley.
Round 11: Ryan Whitney (194th overall) should reap the benefits of Chris Pronger's departure. Mike Smith and Brandon Dubinsky were other notable selections.
Round 15: Wojtek Wolski (275th overall) will see first line minutes for the Providence Bruins and is entering the magical 4th season in which forwards usually blossom. Erik Johnson (281st overall) could be a money pick as well for the California Kwijibos. Just keep him away from golf carts.
Round 19: Don't be surprised when Peter Mueller (345th) turns out to be one of the top 5 steals of the draft. Mueller is a young center entering his third season after a "sophomore slump". Things will only improve for this kid.
Round 23: Paul Stastny is to Joe Sakic what Matt Duchene is to Peter Forsberg. Duchene goes 420th overall to CSKA Moscow. With a little patience, Moscow will be feeling great about this pick for a long time - especially next season when Duchene costs next to nothing to keep.