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Thrashers focus on forwards in NHL draft
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By Charles Odum

ATLANTA - Atlanta Thrashers general manager Don Waddell was only an observer through the first two rounds of the NHL draft, but he said that he still left the draft feeling like he had himself a strong first-round pick.

Waddell drafted right winger Spencer Machacek from Vancouver of the World Hockey League with the team's third-round pick - No. 67 overall - on Saturday.

Waddell said he was pleasantly surprised to see Machacek (6-1, 182) available for the team's first pick.

"It was one of those drafts," Waddell said in a telephone interview from the draft in Columbus, Ohio. "We knew it was going to be all over the place. Our first pick we actually had listed in the first round. We were patiently waiting for our pick and we were happy with what we found."

Atlanta gave up its first-round pick in a deadline deal last season that brought Keith Tkachuk from St. Louis.

Waddell traded one of his two third-round picks on Friday, sending the No. 78 pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins for center Chris Thorburn.

Waddell followed the pick of Machacek by drafting two centers Saturday before finally selecting a defenseman in the seventh round with Atlanta's final pick of the draft.

"The last few years we've stockpiled a lot of defensemen," Waddell said. "We only had four picks. We wanted to make sure we took the best player available. It was good for us that the first three were forwards."

The Thrashers drafted centers Niklas Lucenius (6-0, 189) of Finland and John Albert (5-10, 180) of Cleveland and the U.S. National Under-18 team before picking defenseman Paul Postma of the WHL.

Waddell swapped minor leaguers in another trade on Saturday, acquiring forward Jesse Schultz from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for defenseman Jimmy Sharrow.

Sharrow, who was a fourth-round pick in 2003, appeared in 42 games for the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League last season.