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Florida Panthers' General Manager Dale Tallon (L) is seen with Erik Gudbranson during the first round of the 2010 NHL hockey draft in Los Angeles, California June 25, 2010.REUTERS/Mike Blake

MIKE BLAKE

St. Paul, Minn. - Except for the ones who detoured through Las Vegas en route to the Twin Cities for Friday's first day of entry draft, most teams are now settled in, in preparation for the action, so let the rumours begin.

The most intriguing scuttlebutt this morning focuses on the Florida Panthers and their desire to move up from No. 3 to the No. 1 spot in the draft, so they can select Red Deer's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. That would mean making a deal with the Edmonton Oilers, who have the top choice right now. Florida's general manager Dale Tallon rebuilt the Chicago Blackhawks, largely around centre Jonathan Toews, so it's understandable why a player of Nugent-Hopkins's pedigree would appeal to him. If Tallon stays where he is, he'll get a worthwhile consolation prize in Saint John centre Jonathan Huberdeau.

Sources say Florida would be willing to give up a roster player (Stephen Weiss maybe?) in order to make the deal happen.

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What would be appealing in the deal for Edmonton? Well, if they truly want Swedish defenceman Adam Larsson anyway because he fills a greater organizational need, it would be a defensible move for Edmonton general manager Steve Tambellini, provided the return is sweet enough.

Tallon stole the show at last year's entry draft by choosing six times in the top 50, nine times in the top 100 and selecting 13 players overall. Included in that group were the equivalent of five first-rounders, if you count the three they actually took - Erik Gudbranson (Kingston, OHL), Nick Bjugstad (Blaine high school, Minnesota) and Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw, WHL) - plus the two that slipped into the early stages of the second round: John McFarland (Sudbury, OHL), and Alexander Petrovic (Red Deer, D) both of whom were projected to go in the top 30 and slid.

Tambellini, on the other hand, traditionally takes a more conservative approach and trading out of the top spot is always fraught with risk, unless the return is overwhelming. So stay tuned. As in all these sorts of things, there's lots of talk back and forth, but talk - at this time of year - really is cheap. Let's see how much of the talk actually translates into legitimate action.

And by the way, the consensus among scouts and agents surveyed informally over the past 24 hours suggests that if there are no trades, the top four will go as follows: Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog (to Colorado), Huberdeau, and then Larsson (to New Jersey).

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About the Author

Eric was the winner of the Hockey Hall Of Fame's Elmer Ferguson award for "distinguished contributions to hockey writing" in 2001. A graduate of the University of Western Ontario's grad school of journalism, he began covering hockey in 1978 and after spending 20 years covering the NHL and the Calgary Flames, joined The Globe in 2000. More

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