Brian Burke got his man. Thing is, that man was not Brayden Schenn or John Tavares.
For weeks, reports had the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager trying to move up from the No. 7 slot in Friday's NHL entry draft in Montreal to grab Tavares, the OHL scoring sensation who went first overall to the New York Islanders, or Schenn, a rugged forward with the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings and brother of Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn who went fifth overall to the Los Angeles Kings.
Instead, Burke landed Nazim Kadri, a speedy sniper from the OHL's London Knights.
"We could have had (Tavares)," Burke told TSN. "But we didn't want to deal Luke Schenn (to move up in the draft to select him). We're not frustrated at all. We think we got an excellent young player.
"We're very excited about this young man. It's a great day for Toronto."
Kadri, who grew up a diehard Montreal Canadiens fan, will have no problem suiting up for the Habs' historic rivals.
"I feel great," Kadri said. "It's a great feeling to be part of the Toronto Maple Leafs."
And by taking Kadri, Burke stuck it to the rival Ottawa Senators, who had designs on taking Kadri with the ninth-overall pick. Moments before the selection, TSN captured Burke and Senators GM Bryan Murray in a brief discussion about a possible trade involving the pick.
"Kadri is the kid we're going to take," told Murray. "Is that the kid you want?" Burke asks Murray.
"Yes," Murray responded.
"Well, we're going to take him," Burke replied.
"OK," Murray said.
End of conversation.
It wan't all bad news for Murray. With the ninth pick, he selected Jared Cowen, a six-foot-five shutdown defenceman from the WHL's Spokane Chiefs. Cowen could join Eric Karlsson, a puck-moving Swedish defenceman Ottawa selected in the first round of last year's draft, to one day bolster the Senators' blue-line.
The Edmonton Oilers followed Ottawa by selecting speedy Swedish forward Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson.
"We think he plays Oilers hockey," Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini told TSN. "He drives to the net. He's an emotional player and we're so excited to have him.
"To come to the Edmonton Oilers. That's a classic club. There's great hockey history there, with Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky, Kent Nilsson. I feel great to be here."
The Canadiens, slammed in recent years for snubbing Quebec players in favour of U.S. high school prospects, thrilled their fans with the 18th pick, selecting centre Louis Leblanc of Kirkland, Que., a Montreal suburb. Leblanc, who played last season with Omaha of the USHL, will play next season at Harvard University.
"It's important to have that element or have that flavour on our team," Canadiens GM Bob Gainey told TSN for drafting a Quebec-born player. "The Canadiens are really a part of the city, the province, the francophone culture. I really think Louis fit into our wheelhouse. We're all really happy with him as a player. We got a good, competitive player."
Leblanc told TSN he had hoped the Canadiens would call his name.
"You never know what team's going to pick you, but I was hoping it was the Canadiens," said Leblanc, who hopes to play two seasons at the Ivy League school before making the jump to the NHL. "It happened tonight, and there aren't really words to describe it."
The Calgary Flames traded their 20th-overall pick to the New Jersey Devils and ended up with pick No. 23. They selected Swedish defenceman Tim Erixon, son of former NHLer Jan Erixon.
The Vancouver Canucks — with star goalie Roberto Luongo, a Montreal native, announcing the pick — selected University of Minnesota defenceman Jordan Schroeder with the 22nd pick.
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