Do you look to fill a need or just go after the best player available? And how long will it really take to figure it out?
That's what makes the NHL Entry Draft a crapshoot. Chances are no one among the group with the top few picks will make a mistake, but beyond that it's a guessing game about who goes where. Here's one look at how things make happen:
1. Edmonton Oilers: Taylor Hall, LW, Windsor (OHL)
The Oilers need more help at center than on the wing, but Hall is the cream of this crop and easily the most dynamic player available.
2. Boston Bruins: Tyler Seguin, C Plymouth (OHL)
With this gift pick from the Leafs, Boston will get a talented NHL-ready player who can make an impact quickly.
3. Florida Panthers: Cam Fowler, D, Windsor (OHL)
Florida needs someone who can skate and move the puck from the back end to help its offense. Fowler fits the bill.
4. Columbus Blue Jackets: Erik Gudbranson, D, Kingston (OHL)
He's big, physical and very good in his own end, and has the potential to put up some pretty decent offensive numbers.
5. New York Islanders: Brett Connolly, RW, Prince George (WHL)
A high-end offensive player who has been hampered by serious injuries. Connolly's health is a risk, but the reward potential is high.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning: Brandon Gormley, D, Moncton (QMJHL)
A smart, skilled defenseman who isn't flashy but is likely to be a top-unit guy in the NHL for many years to come.
7. Carolina Hurricanes: Alexander Burmistrov, C, Barrie (OHL)
Adapted nicely to North American-style hockey without sacrificing the skill that has drawn comparisons to Datsyuk and Larionov.
8. Atlanta Thrashers: Nino Niederreiter, LW, Portland (WHL)
Atlanta needs to replace some lost offense on that side, and Niederreiter will help do so while adding a little extra physicality.
9. Minnesota Wild: Nick Bjugstad, C, Blaine HS (Minnesota)
The state's best high school player is a two-way center who will play college hockey next season, but will be with the Wild before long.
10. New York Rangers: Ryan Johnson, C, Portland (WHL)
He can bury the puck, but is also a very good playmaker with a lot of a reach who might be a nice fit alongside Marian Gaborik.
11. Dallas Stars: Dylan McIlrath, D, Moose Jaw (WHL)
Dallas needs defense and McIlrath will be a nice addition. He's solid in his own end and likes to hit people.
12. Anaheim Ducks: Emerson Etem, C, Medicine Hat (WHL)
He may be the purest goal-scorer available although his skating could be a concern. Could be a No. 2 center and he's a local kid from Long Beach.
13. Phoenix Coyotes: Jack Campbell, G, U.S.–Under 18 (NTDP)
Phoenix can afford to develop him patiently. Coming off a great season and has the potential to be a franchise goalie.
14. St. Louis Blues: Jeffrey Skinner, C, Kitcherner (OHL)
He scored 70 goals and 133 points last season playing in 84 regular-season and playoff games.
15. Florida Panthers: Austin Watson, RW, Peterborough (OHL): Good size, strength and speed makes him a nice fit on a Panthers team that needs players to get in on the forecheck and provide physical play.
16. Ottawa Senators: Quinton Howdon, C, Moose Jaw (WHL)
Everyone saw him as a defensive-type forward before last season, but Howdon opened a lot of eyes with his offensive skills.
17. Colorado Avalanche: Derek Forbort, D, U.S.–Under 18 (NTDP): A towering defenseman and a pretty smooth skater to boot, Forbort will put up numbers and eat a lot of minutes.
18. Nashville Predators: Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, Novosibirsk (KHL)
His talent should see him go much higher, but players in the Russian league make NHL teams reluctant to draft them because of transfer issues. At this spot, Tarasenko's worth the gamble.
19. Los Angeles Kings: Beau Bennett, RW, Penticton (BCJHL)
Another Californian who can score. Bennett showed real offensive flash, picking up nearly two points a game playing junior hockey in British Columbia.
20. Pittsburgh Penguins: Mark Pysyk, D, Edmonton (WHL)
Nothing fancy about this kid, but he plays a dependable game and doesn't hurt himself or his team with mistakes.
21. Detroit Red Wings: Mikael Granlund, C, HIFK (Finland)
A smart, skilled playmaker, Granlund's offensive abilities and drive impressed a lot of scouts when he played against men in his country's elite league.
22. Phoenix Coyotes: Brock Nelson, C, Warroad HS (Minnesota)
A big-bodied center who will put up good point totals and make his presence known with his strength and ability to get to the net.
23. Buffalo Sabres: Jarred Tinordi, D, U.S.-18 NTDP
A tough, rugged player who is big and still growing. Very aggressive and has the kind of leadership qualities that make him captain material some day.
24. Atlanta Thrashers: Jonathan Merrill, D, U.S. Under-18 (NTDP)
A great talent, but lots of questions about his maturity after USA Hockey suspended him for some disciplinary issues.
25. Vancouver Canucks: Riley Sheahan, C, Notre Dame (CCHA)
A solid two-way player who follows in the mold of another Canucks player, Ryan Kesler.
26. Washington Capitals: Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Chelyabisnk (KHL)
Another risky bet because of the KHL, but being on a team with Ovechkin might be an inducement for the gifted forward.
27. Montreal Canadiens: Jaden Schwartz, C, Tri-City (USHL)
Fits into the mold of a team that doesn't have a problem with small forwards if they have high-end offensive skill.
28. San Jose Sharks: Tyler Pitlick, C, Minnesota State (WCHA)
Had a good freshman season and has shown solid offensive skills at each level since high school.
29. Anaheim Ducks: Calvin Pickard, G, Seattle (WHL)
The Ducks lack organizational depth in goal and Pickard is the type who could eventually supplant Jonas Hiller.
30. Chicago Blackhawks: John McFarland, C, Sudbury (OHL)
Few thought he'd be around this late when the season started. McFarland's stock slipped a lot this season, but Chicago can afford to take a chance with this pick.