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Tavares passed over in KHL draft, Hall taken by Ak Bars

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The Canadian Press
6/1/2009 4:26:54 PM
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The Kontinental Hockey League's first NHL-style draft was heavy in home-grown Russian talent and light on North Americans.

London Knights forward John Tavares, rated the best pro prospect in North America, was passed over by Russian clubs in the draft of junior players aged 17 to 20.

Swedish defenceman Victor Hedman, who is Tavares's rival to go first overall in the NHL draft June 25-26 in Montreal, was taken in the fourth and final round by Spartak at No. 83.

Since Tavares, from Oakville, Ont., seems destined for the NHL, KHL clubs may have shied away from using a draft pick to obtain his rights.

But Ak Bars showed no such hesitation in choosing Windsor Spitfires forward Taylor Hall, who isn't eligible for the NHL draft until next year, at No. 89. The KHL's minimum draft age is 17, while the NHL's is 18.

Hall was named the most valuable player of the Memorial Cup last month and is expected to be a high draft pick in 2010. He declined comment through his agent Darren Ferris.

"He's one of the best players I've seen in a long time, so I can see why they'd want to draft him," Ferris said. "I wouldn't have any immediate comment to say whether he'd go or not go. We haven't even discussed it."

CSKA made 20-year-old defenceman Michael Pashnin of Chelyabinsk the No.1 pick. He had two assists in seven games for Russia at the world junior hockey championship in Ottawa.

Taylor was one of just three Canadians among the 91 drafted Monday. Moscow Dynamo chose Peterborough Petes right-winger Zach Kassian and Kingston defenceman Erik Gudbranson 56th and 62nd respectively.

The KHL has operated for one season as the successor to the Russian Super League. Of the 24 teams in the league, 21 are based in Russia.

The Russian players selected Monday weren't considered that country's top junior talent. Unlike the NHL, KHL clubs run their own junior teams and were able to put their best prospects on protected lists.

So Monday's draft was more show than substance, according to Goran Stubb, the NHL's director of European scouting

"(I) believe that the only reason for the KHL draft is `the NHL has a draft, we must have one also,"' Stubb said in an e-mail.

John Tavares (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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