The first round of the 2011 NHL Draft took place on Friday. The NHL Draft doesn’t quite have the same panache of, say, the NHL, or even the NBA Draft, as pretty much all of these players are kids who have been playing in junior leagues you can’t see on TV or play in Europe. Plus, only a handful of the players will see any time in the NHL this upcoming season. Nevertheless, it’s a big event in the NHL offseason, and some of these players are sure to become stars.
Just as they did last year, the Edmonton Oilers had the first overall pick. That’s good for them, considering they are an awful team desperately in need of talent. The Oilers selected Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a center who was thought of as more or less the best player in this draft class. Unfortunately, he isn’t a defenseman or a goalie, but he should help the team I imagine. I’ll be perfectly honest and state that I don’t know much, if anything, about these players. I love the NHL, but beyond that my hockey knowledge is kind of limited, and I don’t watch juniors at all. Regardless, I imagine the Oilers expect Nugent-Hopkins to center a line alongside Taylor Hall, who was selected first overall last year.
The Colorado Avalanche took winger Gabriel Landeskog second. Florida was next, and they took center Jonathan Huberdeau. New Jersey, who won the NHL Draft Lottery, took the first defenseman, and first European, off the board in Adam Larsson. Landing the fourth overall pick was a major coup for the Devils. They weren’t the fourth worst team in the league. With a healthy Zach Parise and a bit more fortune, they may have been a playoff team. Now, they’ve added Larsson, who could be a big part of their future.
The New York Islanders rounded out the top five with center Ryan Strome. The Winnipeg Jets, after announcing they would officially be called the Jets again as was reported earlier in the day, took center Mark Scheifele. The Philadelphia Flyers used the eighth overall pick they got from Columbus in the Jeff Carter trade to take center Sean Couturier. With the next pick, the Boston Bruins took defenseman Dougie Hamilton with the second first round pick they got in the Phil Kessel trade. No goalies were taken in the first round.
The NHL Draft will continue this weekend, as teams will look to make some steals and probably complete some more trades. Oh, there were many trades that went down on day one of the NHL Draft, and those will be gotten to shortly. For now, congratulations to all the players who were drafted in the first round, particularly Nugent-Hopkins who will try and help turn around the moribund Oilers.