Oilers draft Nugent-Hopkins No. 1 overall
Top-ranked centre possesses great vision, hands and understanding of game
The name doesn't roll off the tongue as smoothly, but it won't matter if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can form a 1-2 punch with fellow first-round pick Taylor Hall and down the road conjure memories of another dynamic Oilers duo from the 1980s dynasty years.
For the second year in a row, Edmonton general manager Steve Tambellini kept the first overall selection in Friday's National Hockey League entry draft and chose Nugent-Hopkins, a centre from the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League.
"It's going to be great," said the six-foot Nugent-Hopkins, who has his thin frame up to 174 pounds and hopes to put on more weight before making the jump to the NHL. "I'm going to be able to relate to all the young guys in the system already.
"So just joining a group like that is very exciting for me. I just can't wait to get started."
Draft wheeling & dealing
- Colorado traded D John-Michael Liles to Toronto for Boston's second-round pick in the 2012 entry draft (previously acquired).
- Minnesota traded D Brent Burns and its second-round pick in the 2012 entry draft to San Jose for RW Devin Setoguchi, C Charlie Coyle and San Jose's first-round pick in 2011 (28th overall).
- Chicago traded LW Troy Brouwer to Washington for Washington's first-round pick in 2011 (26th overall).
- Anaheim traded its first-round pick in 2011 (22nd overall) to Toronto for Boston's first-round pick in 2011 (previously acquired, 30th overall) and Toronto's second-round pick in 2011 (39th overall).
- Detroit traded its first-round pick in 2011 (24th overall) to Ottawa for Ottawa's second-round pick in 2011 (35th overall) and Chicago's second-round pick in 2011 (previously acquired, 48th overall).
- Chicago traded D Brian Campbell to Florida for LW Rostislav Olesz.
Tambellini chose left-winger Hall — who accompanied Tambellini and Nugent-Hopkins on stage — first overall last June over Tyler Seguin, now with the Boston Bruins.
"I met Taylor earlier in the day and it was great to just finally meet him," said Nugent-Hopkins, who soon could call Hall his linemate.
Hall said Nugent-Hopkins will be a fun player to play with.
"All I know is he's a great passer," said Hall. "For a player like me that likes to get in the open and get a nice pass, he'll be fun to play with."
Nugent-Hopkins is similar in stature to former Oilers star Wayne Gretzky, who racked up more than 1,500 regular-season points over nine years with Edmonton, often with Jari Kurri on his right wing. Like the Great One, Nugent-Hopkins is blessed with great vision and hands on the ice and outstanding understanding of the game, according to scouts.
Nugent-Hopkins's skill and vision was the deciding factor for Tambellini and his management/scouting picking the player first overall.
"We've been following [Nugent-Hopkins] pretty hard," said general manager Steve Tambellini. "He's a great player, great intelligence, and I always felt that if we didn't take him, we'd leave something on the table."
Nugent-Hopkins, who hails from Burnaby, B.C., becomes the eighth NHL player to be chosen No. 1 overall in his bantam draft (WHL) and the NHL draft.
The top-ranked North American skater by the Central Scouting Bureau, Nugent-Hopkins is fresh off a second season with the Rebels in which he scored 31 goals and 75 assists for 106 points in 69 games.
The Colorado Avalanche took Swedish left-winger Gabriel Landeskog of the Kitchener Rangers with the second selection.
"We just felt that Gabriel brought the tangible and intangible things as well as his skill on the ice. He's going to be a good addition to our hockey club," said Avalanche GM Greg Sherman.
The Florida Panthers then snagged Saint John Sea Dogs centre and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League/Memorial Cup MVP Jonathan Huberdeau at No. 3.
"He's a solid two-way player, he's unselfish and everything you want in a hockey player," Panthers GM Dale Tallon said.
Adam Larsson, a six-foot-three, 200-pound defenceman from Sweden, was selected fourth by the New Jersey Devils. He played two full seasons for Skelleftea and was the third blue-liner to make his debut in the Swedish Elite League at age 16.
The New York Islanders rounded out the top five by choosing centre Ryan Strome of the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League. Strome was third in the league with 106 points in 65 games.
"I love the colours and I think I'll fit in great there," Strome, who is workout partners with Islanders forwards John Tavares and Matt Moulson, said. "They're a young team. They've got a ton of assets. I want to grow with the team, and I want to win a championship."
Mark Chipman, chair of True North Sports and Entertainment — the owners of the Winnipeg franchise — stepped to the podium and announced the former Atlanta Thrashers would be named the Jets before selecting centre Mark Scheifele of the OHL's Barrie Colts with the seventh pick.
Eleven of the top 30 first rounders went to Canadian teams.
The remaining rounds, two through seven, will take place on Saturday.
To relive the NHL draft action from Friday, take a look at CBCSports.ca's chat replay.
2011 NHL draft (1st round)
|1||Edm||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins||C||Red Deer (WHL)|
|2||Col||Gabriel Landeskog||LW||Kitchener (OHL)|
|3||Fla||Jonathan Huberdeau||C||Saint John (QMJHL)|
|4||NJ||Adam Larsson||D||Skelleftea (Sweden)|
|5||NYI||Ryan Strome||C||Niagara (OHL)|
|6||Ott||Mika Zibanejad||C||Djurgarden (Sweden)|
|7||Wpg||Mark Scheifele||C||Barrie (OHL)|
|8||Phi (from Clb)||Sean Couturier||C||Drummondville (QMJHL)|
|9||Bos||Doug Hamilton||D||Niagara (OHL)|
|10||Min||Jonas Brodin||D||Farjestad (Sweden)|
|11||Col||Duncan Siemens||D||Saskatoon (WHL)|
|12||Car||Ryan Murphy||D||Kitchener (OHL)|
|13||Cal||Sven Bartschi||LW||Portland (WHL)|
|14||Dal||Jamie Oleksiak||D||Northeastern (U.S. college)|
|15||NYR||J.T. Miller||LW||U.S. development program|
|16||Buf||Joel Armia||RW||Assat (Finland)|
|17||Mon||Nathan Beaulieu||D||Saint John (QMJHL)|
|18||Chi||Mark McNeill||C||Prince Albert (WHL)|
|19||Edm (from LA)||Oscar Klefbom||D||Farjestad (Sweden)|
|20||Pho||Connor Murphy||D||U.S. under-18|
|21||Ott (from Nsh)||Stefan Noesen||C||Plymouth (OHL)|
|22||Tor (from Ana)||Tyler Biggs||RW||U.S. development program|
|23||Pit||Joe Morrow||D||Portland (WHL)|
|24||Ott (from Det)||Matt Puempel||LW||Peterborough (OHL)|
|25||Tor (from Phi)||Stuart Percy||D||Mississauga (OHL)|
|26||Chi (from Wsh)||Phillip Danault||LW||Victoriaville (QMJHL)|
|27||TB||Vladislav Namestnikov||C||London (OHL)|
|28||Min (from SJ)||Zack Phillips||C||Saint John (QMJHL)|
|29||Van||Nicklas Jensen||LW||Oshawa (OHL)|
|30||Ana (from Tor)||Rikard Rakell||RW||Plymouth (OHL)|
With files from The Canadian Press