Colorado Avalanche take centre Avs take Nathan MacKinnon first in NHL entry draft
Centre Nathan MacKinnon stands with new coach Patrick Roy (left) and executive vice-president of hockey operations Joe Sakic after being chosen first overall in Sunday's National Hockey League entry draft in Newark, N.J.
Photograph by: Bill Kostroun, The Associated Press
NEWARK, N.J. — How much talent is in today's National Hockey League draft? Top-rated prospect Seth Jones, a dynamic, impact defenceman who until recently was considered a lock to be chosen first, slid all the way to No. 4 in the league's annual talent lottery.
True to his word, Colorado Avalanche senior vice-president Joe Sakic selected Halifax centre Nathan MacKinnon with the first pick of today's draft. Sakic hinted recently that he might not select Jones, but many observers considered the comments to be gamesmanship.
But the Avalanche, which already has several young, talented forwards and appear to need defencemen, chose the high-scoring MacKinnon, whom Colorado coach Patrick Roy knew and coveted from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The Florida Panthers used the second pick on Finnish forward Sasha Barkov, followed next by the Tampa Bay Lightning and its selection of speedy winger Jonathan Drouin, MacKinnon's teammate in Halifax.
Jones, the Portland Winterhawks blue-liner who is the son of former pro basketball player Ronald (Popeye) Jones, slid to the Nashville Predators at No. 4.
The Vancouver Canucks hold the 24th pick of the first round, but the draft buzzed with trade speculation about the team. General manager Mike Gillis told reporters on Saturday he would like to move up in the draft and was listening to trade offers for, among other players, starting goalie Cory Schneider.
There were reports early Sunday that Gillis had also put into play top-four defenceman Alex Edler, whose no-trade clause on a six-year, $30-million contract extension becomes active on Canada Day.
TSN insider Pierre LeBrun reported Saturday that the Canucks, unable for a year to trade deposed No. 1 goalie Roberto Luongo and his $64-million contract, held a pre-draft summit and decided to see instead what they could get for Schneider, who at 27 is seven years younger than Luongo and has just entered the prime of his career.
Edler is a natural trading chip as the Canucks have several other good defencemen on long-term contracts and Gillis, who badly needs to reinvigorate the lineup and make it younger, has little else to trade for quality players.
“Good afternoon,” said Bettman, almost drowned out by boos as the draft began at noon PDT. “I love your energy.”
Bettman took time out to mourn the passing of well-respected player agent Don Baizley, which slowed the jeering. But only temporarily.
It’s been a tough week for commissioners. David Stern got the Bronx cheer every time he stepped to the podium during the NBA draft in Brooklyn.
After working through their own anti-commissioner feelings, Devils fans chanted “Marty’s Better” in honour of veteran goalie Martin Brodeur as Colorado coach Patrick Roy took the stage.
Calgary was the first Canadian team to pick, taking Ottawa 67s forward Sean Monahan sixth overall. Edmonton then took Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds defenceman Darnell Nurse.
Vancouver, selecting ninth, chose London Knights centre Bo Horvat while Winnipeg took Prince Albert defenceman Joshua Morrissey with the 13th pick. Ottawa used the 17th selection to pick up Edmonton Oil Kings forward Curtis Lazar and Toronto, with the 21st pick, chose Rimouski centre Frederik Gauthier.
The Flames, who had three picks in the first round, took Gatineau winger Emile Poirier 22nd and Regina winger Morgan Klimchuk 28th.
The Canucks, with their second pick of the first round, chose Medicine Hat forward Hunter Shinkaruk 24th overall, ahead of Montreal taking U.S. under-18 winger Michael McCarron at No. 25.
A couple of familiar names were called in the first round.
London Knights forward Max Domi, son of former Maple Leaf enforcer Tie Domi, went to Phoenix 12th overall while Windsor winger Kerby Rychel, son of Warren Rychel, went 19th to Columbus.
The draft was a one-day affair this year instead of split over two days.
With files from Neil Davidson of The Canadian Press
More to come later ...
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