Oilers Make Yakupov Overall Top Pick
Though it came as no surprise, the Edmonton Oilers kept its No. 1 overall pick and opted for the most coveted forward in the 2012 NHL Draft -- Nail Yakupov, while defensemen went early and often in Round 1.
It marked the third consecutive season Edmonton picked first.
It officially put an end to the speculation that the Oilers might trade down to address certain needs, including in defense.
The 18-year-old native of Tatarstan, Russia, who spent the last two seasons with the Samia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League, finished his second season with the Ontario-based junior hockey team with 31 goals and 60 points in just 42 regular-season tilts. He also had five points in six playoff contests.
It marked the first time that a Russian player was taken with the No.1 pick since 1994, when Washington drafted Alex Ovechkin.
In Edmonton, the dynamic forward Yakupov, who amassed 80 goals and 170 points with a plus-13 rating in over 107 games in two OHL seasons, could be the become the third key piece in the Oilers core that includes center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and winger Taylor Hall, the top picks in the previous two drafts.
Apart from Yakupov and his Samia teammate Alex Galchenyuk, who was taken third overall by Montreal, the other eight picks in the top 10 were blueliners.
The Milwaukee-born center Galchenyuk is regarded as skilled passer and a natural scorer. Galchenyuk, however, did not tally any points this past season after a knee injury limited him to just two games.
Columbus, which ended the season with the worst mark in the NHL lost out to the Oilers in the draft lottery, taking defenseman Ryan Murray, 18, a native of Saskatchewan at No. 2. Murray saw action with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League last season.
Defenseman Griffin Reinhart of the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings was the fourth player taken off the boards by the Islanders before the Maple Leafs picked up Moose Jaw's Morgan Rielly to round out the top five.
The run of defensemen being taken continued with Anaheim snapping Swede Hampus Lindholm at sixth, Minnesota then selected Mathew Dumba from Red Deer of the WHL at seven.
The Penguins shared the spotlight Friday night with a huge Draft Day deal. Pittsburgh took rearguard Derrick Pouliot from Portland of the WHL with the eighth-overall pick acquired from Carolina in exchange for star center Jordan Staal.
In addition to Staal, a three-time 20-goal scorer and four-time 40-point scorer, the Pens also received center Brandon Sutter and defensive prospect Brian Dumoulin in the deal.
Winnipeg used the ninth overall pick on Jacob Trouba from the US National Team's Development Program, while Tampa Bay chose Slater Koekkoek from Peterborough of the OHL at 10th.
Washington ended the run on seven straight defensemen being selected by taking Leksand center Filip Forsberg, who was part of the Team Sweden at the 2012 World Junior championships.
No. 12-14 selections were all centers - - Buffalo chose Mikhail Grigorenko of Quebec and Zemgus Girgensons (Dubuque of USHL) at 12 and 14, respectively; Dallas picked up Radek Faksa (Kitchener of the OHL) at 13th.
The Senators used No. 15 on defenseman Cody Ceci (Ottawa of the OHL); Plymouth right winger Thomas Wilson was taken at 16 by Washington; San Jose took center Tomas Hertl (Slavia) at 17; No. 18 was used on left-winger Teuvo Teravainen (Jokerit) by the Blackhawks before Tampa Bay added goaltender Andrei Vasilevski (UFA) at No. 19 and Philadelphia tagged Scott Laughton (Oshawa) at No. 20.
Picks from No. 21-30 were as follows: No. 21 Calgary Flames - -Mark Jankowski; No. 22 Pittsburgh - - Olli Maatta; No. 23 Florida - - Michael Matheson; 24 Boston- -Malcolm Subban; 25 St. Louis - -Jordan Schmaltz; 26 Vancouver -- Brendan Gaunce; 27 Phoenix - -Henrik Samuelsson; 28 NY Rangers - -Brady Skjei; 29 New Jersey - -Stefan Matteau and 30 Los Angeles - -Tanner Pearson.
There were a total of 13 defensemen selected, tying an NHL mark set in 1996 for the most blueliners chosen in the first round. Day 1 also saw 15 forwards and two goaltenders picked up.
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- Oilers Make Yakupov Overall Top Pick
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