John Tavares, centre, Victor Hedman, left, and Matt Duchene were selected 1-2-3 at the NHL Draft Friday night in Montreal.
Photograph by: Getty Images, Getty Images
John Tavares lived up to his early billing and was selected first overall at the National Hockey League's entry draft in Montreal on Friday night by the New York Islanders.
The Oakville, Ont., native was the top-rated North American player by NHL Central Scouting heading into the draft at the Bell Centre.
Tavares spent the past four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League and scored 215 goals and 218 assists for 433 points in 247 regular season games with the Oshawa Generals and London Knights.
The Tampa Bay Lightning selected Swedish defenceman Victor Hedman second overall.
Hedman, six-foot-five and 212 pounds, played for Modo of the Swedish Elite League this past season and scored seven goals with 14 assists for 21 points in 43 games. He was also a prominent member of Sweden's national junior team that finished as a runner-up to Canada at the past winter's world junior championship at Ottawa.
The Lightning, in need of quality defencemen, got their man Friday.
The Colorado Avalanche, selecting third, chose forward Matt Duchene.
Duchene, the Haliburton, Ont., native who had 31 goals and 48 assists in 57 games for the OHL's Brampton Battalion this past season, was the consensus No. 3 pick. He is considered the draft's most-complete player by NHL Central Scouting.
The top three picks went according to early predictions, but questions about the remainder of the opening round began with the No. 4 slot.
The Atlanta Thrashers started answering those questions by picking Vancouver Giants centre Evander Kane. The power forward had 48 goals and 48 assists in 61 regular season games this past winter.
The Los Angeles Kings, who struck gold last season when they took defenceman Drew Doughty second overall, used the fifth pick to select Brayden Schenn from the Brandon Wheat Kings. Schenn is the younger brother of Toronto Maple Leaf defenceman Luke Schenn. The Saskatoon product scored 32 goals and added 56 assists for 88 points in 70 games.
Picking sixth overall, the Phoenix Coyotes landed Swedish defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Ekman-Larsson skated with Leksand in Sweden and had three goals, 14 assists for 17 points in 37 league games.
The Toronto Maple Leafs then selected forward Nazem Kadri with the seventh selection. Playing with Tavares through the second half of the OHL season, Kadri had 25 goals and 53 assists for 78 points in 56 games.
New Dallas Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk made his first pick in the eighth slot. Forward Scott Glennie, a teammate of Brayden Schenn's in Brandon, was the selection. Glennie scored 28 goals with 42 assists for 70 points in 55 games.
The Ottawa Senators were the second Canadian team to pick. GM Bryan Murray selected big defenceman Jared Cowen from the Spokane Chiefs. The six-foot-five blue-liner is considered a shutdown player and had seven goals and 14 assists in 48 games. A severe knee injury limited his playing time this past season.
Up next was another Canadian team as the Edmonton Oilers added speedy Swedish winger Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson with the 10th pick. The youngest Swede ever to play in the world junior tournament, Paajarvi-Svensson played for Timra of the Swedish league this past season and had seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points.
Ryan Ellis, the versatile defenceman from the Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires, went to the Nashville Predators with the 11th pick. Ellis, just five foot nine, had 22 goals and 57 assists in 57 games this season in Windsor.
Minnesota then traded the 12th selection to the Islanders for 16th pick and two later-round selections. New York nabbed Calvin de Haan of the Oshawa Generals. The Ottawa-area defenceman had eight goals and 55 assists for the Gens in 68 league games.
The Buffalo Sabres, with the 13th pick, selected rugged right-winger Zack Kassian from the Peterborough Petes. The Windsor, Ont., native is considered the best pugilist in the draft and had 24 goals and 63 points in 61 games with 136 penalty minutes.
Interim GM Randy Sexton with Florida had the 14th pick. The Panthers picked Russian defenceman Dmitri Kulikov from the Drummondville Voltigeurs. The power-play specialist had 12 goals and 50 assists in 57 QMJHL games this year.
Anaheim held both the fifth and 21st pick in the opening round. At No. 15, the Ducks selected Guelph Storm centre Peter Holland who scored 28 goals and had 67 points in 68 games.
Chuck Fletcher, the Wild's new GM, stayed close to home with Nick Leddy of Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota. Leddy was the first American selected.
Pick No. 17 saw the St. Louis Blues take David Rundblad, an offensive defenceman who played with Skelleftea AIK of the Swedish Elite League this season.
The hometown Montreal Canadiens had the large Bell Centre crowd on its feet when they selected USHL centre Louis Leblanc 18th overall. The catch for the fans is that Leblanc is from nearby Kirkland, Que. Leblanc had 28 goals and 31 assists for the Omaha Lancers last season in 60 games.
Glen Sather and the Rangers were up next. The New York GM selected centre Chris Kreider from Andover Academy, a U.S. high school. Kreider is headed to Boston College this year.
The Calgary Flames traded the 20th pick to New Jersey for the 23rd pick and a later selection. The Devils took Jacob Josefson, a centre from Djurgardens in Sweden. The Ducks traded pick No. 21 to Columbus for picks No. 26 and 37. The Blue Jackets nabbed mobile defenceman John Moore from Chicago of the USHL.
The last of the two Canadian teams were next up.
At No. 22, the Vancouver Canucks picked speedy University of Minnesota centre Jordan Schroeder. At five-foot-eight, size was an issue for Schroeder's critics but not for Central Scouting, which had him ranked near the top of North American skaters. With the Gophers, Schroeder had 13 goals and 32 assists for 45 points in 35 games.
The Flames selected Swedish defenceman Tim Erixon at No. 23. He is the son of former New York Ranger forward Jan Erixon. Erixon skated with Skelleftea this past season.
Another Swedish skater was taken with the 24th pick, setting a record with seven first-round selections.
The Washington Capitals picked centre Marcus Johansson of Farjestad.
Boston held the 26th pick. Right-winger Jordan Caron from the Rimouski Oceanic had 36 goals and 31 assists for 67 points in 56 games.
Anaheim, with Columbus's choice, took centre Kyle Palmieri from the U.S. under-18 development program. With the 28th pick, Carolina selected centre Philippe Paradis of the QMJHL's Shawinigan Cataractes.
At No. 29, the Chicago Blackhawks landed Dylan Olsen from the Camrose Kodiaks, a hard-hitting defenceman.
The Western Conference champion Detroit Red Wings traded pick No. 29 to Tampa for the 32nd and 75th pick. The Lightning picked winger Carter Ashton from the Lethbrige Hurricanes — Ashton's father is former NHLer Brent.
The Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins wrapped up the first round — four hours after it started — when they picked defenceman Simon Despres from the QMJHL's Saint John Sea Dogs.
Rounds 2 through 7 are slated for Saturday at the Bell Centre.
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