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Jumat, 24 Juni 2011

Teams Keep Focus on Offense at Top of the N.H.L. Draft

ST. PAUL — The first hour of the first round of the N.H.L. entry draft featured no big trades and only one slightly surprising selection.The top three North American skaters ranked by the league’s Central Scouting Bureau were selected 1, 2, 3. The Edmonton Oilers chose center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from Burnaby, British Columbia, the consensus best player available, as the No. 1 pick. The Colorado Avalanche followed with left wing Gabriel Landeskog, a native of Sweden who played Junior A hockey for Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League.
Jonathan Huberdeau, a center from Quebec, went third to Florida. The Devils chose the Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson, the top-ranked European skater. The Islanders, at No. 5, bypassed four higher-rated North American skaters to choose center Ryan Strome of Ontario, who scored 106 points in 65 games for Niagara of the O.H.L. Another Swede, center Mika Zibanejad, went sixth to Ottawa.
Nugent-Hopkins said he suspected he might land in Edmonton as far back as March, when his team, Red Deer, faced the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Western Hockey League playoffs.
“When my name got called, it didn’t quite hit me until I got on stage and shook Steve Tambellini’s hand,” he said, referring to the Edmonton general manager and a former Islander.
Nugent-Hopkins (6 feet, 164 pounds) is known for his great vision and passing skills. He led the W.H.L. in assists (75) and was tied for third in points (106). He was the first W.H.L. player to go No. 1 since 1996, when Ottawa chose Chris Phillips of Prince Albert.
Nugent-Hopkins said he was once shy, a trait he apparently outgrew when he worked for a month blogging for NHL.com, and made the rounds of news media outlets an hour before the draft. “I can’t even describe what I’m feeling now,” he said 15 minutes after being picked.
The Philadelphia Flyers, who made two blockbuster trades on Thursday to remake their roster, landed the No. 8 overall pick, their first in the first round since 2008. They took center Sean Couturier, the son of the former N.H.L. winger Sylvain Couturier and the most valuable player of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In 2009, Couturier became the first 17- year-old to lead the Q.M.J.H.L. in scoring since Sidney Crosby in 2004-5.
Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren acquired the selection from Columbus, along with a third-round pick and forward Jakub Voracek, for center Jeff Carter. Holmgren sent the Flyers’ captain, Michael Richards, to Los Angeles for center Brayden Schenn, who was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2009 draft, and right wing Wayne Simmonds.
Before the first pick was announced, the league showed a video that honored E. J. McGuire, the director of the Central Scouting Bureau, who died April 7 of a rare form of cancer.
This is the second time the draft has been held in Minnesota. The old Met Center in Bloomington, the home of the North Stars, hosted the 1989 draft.
From the draft’s inception in 1963 through 1984, it was held in various locations in Montreal, most often at the N.H.L. office or the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. It shifted arenas in 1980, beginning with the Montreal Forum. The 1987 draft at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit was the first held in the United States. With the exception of 2005, it has been held in arenas ever since.
SLAP SHOTS
The Atlanta Thrashers, who moved to Winnipeg, will be called the Winnipeg Jets, the original name of the franchise. ... Rounds 2-7 will be completed on Saturday.

Sources : NYTimes.com

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