PITTSBURGH -- As recently as a week ago, Mark Jankowski was struggling to figure out what he should do.
But when he was taken the Calgary Flames with the 21st pick at the NHL Draft on Friday night, the tall center from Stanstead College in Quebec knew he’d made the right call to skip his high school graduation ceremony and attend the first round of the draft
"I think I made the right decision," a beaming Jankowski said while wearing a Flames jersey. "I only made my decision about a week ago, and right up until that day I was flip flopping every day."
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello pretty much assured that the younger Matteau wouldn't allow history to repeat itself when he drafted Stefan with the 29th pick of the NHL Draft at Consol Energy Center on Friday.
Was the youngster, NHL Central Scouting's No. 17-ranked North American skater, surprised by the selection?
By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer With the first pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, the Edmonton Oilers selected 18-year-old right wing Nail Yakupov, making him the first Russian-born player chosen No. 1 overall since Alex Ovechkin in 2004. READ MORE ›
"I met with the Devils a few times, but obviously knowing the history of my name, I guess it's surprising," Matteau said. "But I couldn't be more thrilled."
Matteau's father was selected with the 25th pick in 1987 by the Calgary Flames, meaning Stefan lost the big bet since father was drafted earlier than son.
After hearing his name announced by New Jersey director of amateur scouting, David Conte, Matteau said he didn't even have enough time to chat with his father.
"I gave [my father] a hug and ran down to the stage," Matteau said. "I think he's happy for me. If I would have gone to the Rangers with the pick before, there would have been a lot of pressure. I think it's good for me and I'm glad to be a Devil."
Matteau was the sixth American-born player drafted in the opening round. He'll play for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2012-13.
"You meet with teams early on and give yourself expectations and sometimes you don't meet them," Matteau said. "I thought I could have gone earlier, but it worked out in the end. There are 10 to 15 minutes between each pick and it's long.
"Today was the longest day of my life, but it all worked out in the end and I'm really proud."
The 6-foot-1 1/2, 210-pound center had 15 goals, including four power-play goals, and 32 points in 46 games with the U.S. National Team Development Program this season. He also accumulated 166 penalty minutes. In 47 games with the U-17 Team last season, he had seven goals, 18 points and 67 penalty minutes.
"I'm a big-bodied power forward, have a lot of skill and a good shot, and I play with an edge," Matteau said. "Some teams like that, and I like to bring an all-around solid game."
Matteau doesn't believe he plays the game as his father once did.
"Growing up, I did get to watch him … he was a hard-working, physical guy who played with an edge," Stefan told NHL.com. "It's weird to say this because he played 15 years, but I think I'm more offensive than he was. Dad told me I'm bigger and more skilled … that's what he said."
Matteau believes he's a perfect fit with the Devils, a team he considered to be one of the hardest-working in the playoffs.
"Just their physicality and the way they never stopped," Matteau said. "The Final was a tough go, but they still didn't back down and that's how I play. I go hard to the end and it's a good fit for me."
He said his "mentality is to make the team next year."
"If not, I'll just go back to junior and develop one more year and hopefully make the jump after that."
"He's a powerful man, big and strong," Cole told NHL.com. "He plays a physical game and he's going to be good. I would think he's a little (more physical than dad). He also probably has a little more high-end offensive ability -- Stef's going to put the puck in the net."
Does Matteau have a message for Devils' fans?
"No, not really … I'm in shock myself," he said with a grin. "There's a bright future ahead, and I'm looking forward to having an impact wherever they may need me."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini drafted Yakupov, NHL Central Scouting's top-ranked North American player, with the first pick Friday in the opening round of the 2012 NHL Draft at Consol Energy Center.
Nugent-Hopkins, who accompanied the team on the stage when Tambellini announced the pick, was chosen No. 1 last year at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
"It's kind of neat to see things from this side of the spectrum and there's no pressure or nerves," Nugent-Hopkins said. "You just kind of watch all these things unfold.
"There's always talks and stuff going on before the Draft but ultimately it comes down to what the staff decides on draft day and we picked up a great player."
PITTSBURGH -- Cody Ceci knows for sure he'll be playing his home games in Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. Whether he's doing it as a member of the Ottawa Senators, however, is another story.
Ceci, taken by the Senators with the 15th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, plays his junior hockey for the Ottawa 67s. With their home arena, the Ottawa Civic Center, under renovations, the 67s will play their home games next season at Scotiabank Place, home of the Senators.
And if he does eventually play for the Senators, it'll be easy for his family to see the games -- Ceci was born and raised in the Ottawa suburb of Orleans, Ont.
"It's a crazy feeling for me," he told NHL.com. "I never thought it would happen. To stay at home for major junior was crazy enough. Now doing it at the [NHL] level is indescribable. My mom's really happy."
Ceci said he met with the Senators in May at the NHL Scouting Combine, and said he was told then that if he were still available when the Sens' turn came at the draft -- he was No. 6 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters -- he would be a player they would consider.
"When it got to be closer to them I was hoping that everything would work out," he said. "Just having everything work out is special. I'm really fortunate and I feel lucky that it did work out."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
PITTSBURGH -- Oshawa Generals forward Scott Laughton got a rough introduction to the bitter Flyers-Penguins rivalry.
Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren nearly was drowned out by the Consol Energy Center crowd, and Laughton said he never really heard his name called with the 20th pick.
"It definitely was loud, and I really couldn't hear my name being called," he told NHL.com. "But I heard Oshawa Generals and I knew it was me. We know the rivalry is alive and well. Pretty excited about it."
A 6-foot, 177-pound center, Laughton had 21 goals, 32 assists and 101 penalty minutes in 64 games with the Generals. He also had seven points in seven games for Canada at the 2012 IIHF World Under-18 Championship. He was No. 28 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2012 NHL Draft.
"He came on strong at the end [of the season]," Holmgren said. "We had four or five guys over there at the Under-18 World Championships, and they all thought Scott was Canada's best player."
Laughton said he didn't mind getting booed by the Penguins fans on Friday -- but also said he wouldn't forget it when he gets to Philadelphia.
"I think I will try and pay them back," he said.
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Hi everyone. What a day it was. I was chosen by the Winnipeg Jets with the No. 9 overall pick.
It was pretty nerve-racking. I hadn't really been nervous all day and finally being picked and becoming a Jet is pretty cool. They were excited that I'm a Jet and excited I was there. I'm very excited as well.
I'm headed to [the University of] Michigan next year to play there and I'm excited to get my education under way and play with coach [Red] Berenson and the players in that building.
I was asked by reporters what I knew about the Jets. I know the city as pretty excited to get their team back last year. It's a great hockey town … I've been there in the past and it's a cool thing. I've seen the Jets on TV a few times but not too much. Whoever is playing on NBC is usually who I watch.
The team knows of my desire to play at Michigan so we're all cool with that. Right now I think getting bigger and stronger is the biggest thing for me, because I like to play physical and that's something I'll need to improve on at the next level.
It was pretty cool to be the first American drafted. There are a lot of great Americans that are in this Draft and I've played with a lot of them the last couple of years in minor hockey. I think it's cool to be here with those guys and be taken this high.
In closing, this is something I'll definitely remember forever and it's pretty cool thing. It's been a fun and exciting year for me and great week in Pittsburgh.
PITTSBURGH -- Barrie Colts forward Tanner Pearson was passed over in two drafts, but had a dominant season in the Ontario Hockey League, finishing third with 91 points and helping Canada win the bronze medal at the 2012 World Junior Championship.
He culminated his fairy-tale season by being selected by the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings with the final pick of the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft.
"I think it puts the icing on the cake, for sure," Pearson told NHL.com.
Pearson said as the final picks of the first round came off the board, he wasn't sure if he would have to wait until Saturday to hear his name called.
"It goes through everyone's head," he said. "If I didn't get picked today I don't think it would have been the end of the world for myself. I would have come in tomorrow with the exact same attitude I had today and hopefully get picked up. But I was fortunate to get picked up today. Last but not least, but it's going to be fun."
Pearson said he's already put his 2011-12 season behind him and shifted his focus to doing what he can to play for the Kings in 2012-13.
"Something new is starting," he said. "It was a great year, it happened, and now I have to focus on making the Kings. … I know it's going to be a hard team to make. I want to do everything I can to do that."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Well, I'm proud to announce I'm a Columbus Blue Jacket.
I have to admit, I was really nervous and really excited at the start of the Draft. I was kind of ready to jump out of my seat there, but I'm just really honored and happy to be a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
While waiting for the No. 1 pick, I guess it crossed my mind that I could go first overall. I guess that's something you have to think about. I was pretty nervous before that pick and Edmonton got a great player in in Nail [Yakupov].He's a fantastic forward and has great skills, and he'll do great things for them.
It was a lot of fun coming down to Pittsburgh. I got to see some of the city and the NHL really took care of us. The League kind of toured us around and we got to do some fun activities and got to go hit some balls at PNC Park. We were on the river in a boat to see the city. It was cool and a lot of fun.
I just want a chance to play [in Columbus] and take I'll take it step-by-step and day-by-day. Obviously they're in a rebuilding mode right now and I'm really glad I can be a part of that. It's a young franchise so if I get a chance to play there, you can kind of write the history books.
Of course, I'll focus on making the team, but if I'm there I'd be very happy to work with [Craig Hartsburg] too. He's taught me a lot over the years and he's really been a big influence and a big part of the reason I'm here today.
Well, thanks for reading. Time to celebrate with my family.
Matt Dumba is a defenseman for the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. The 5-foot-11.75, 183-pound defenseman was named WHL Rookie of the Year after scoring 15 goals and adding 11 assists in 62 games. He also had a tournament-high 12 points -- all assists -- to help Canada Pacific win the bronze medal at the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. This summer, he played for Canada at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Tournament and also took part in the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp in August. Dumba has offered to maintain a monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
PITTSBURGH -- It's been a pretty amazing time in Pittsburgh.
I was up late last night but once I went to bed, I got a real good sleep. We had breakfast with the families, that was fun. That was the first time we saw Gary Bettman. He talked to us for a brief moment, then we had orientation, just listening through that. I had lunch with my family and friends, that was good. Then it was just waiting the next four hours for it to all happen.
Walking the red carpet into the arena, that was awesome. Lots of fun. It was pretty cool to see all the fans on both sides going crazy. People asking for autographs everywhere. It was cool to see.
I tried to chill out and relax when things started, but at the same time anxiety is running through your body about when you're going to be picked where. At the end of the day I was just waiting for my name to be called.
When Minnesota said "Red Deer," that's all I heard. I knew it was me. That was cool. My family was really excited. They were saying just how proud of me they were. Mom was crying, she didn't say anything. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was talking to me and said congratulations. He was excited for me as well.
Going down the stairs, the cameraman told me to slow down because I was going too fast. I was racing to get up to the stage. It was pretty cool.
When I shook hands with the Commissioner, he said "Welcome to the NHL," and I squeezed his hand pretty tight. Sorry, but I was pretty excited.
Pulling on that Wild jersey, it was amazing. You stand on the little "X" and put the jersey on. It was so cool. Just everything, this whole experience has been awesome.
Alex Galchenyuk is a forward for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot, 198-pound forward was born in Milwaukee but is of Russian decent -- his father, Alexander, spent five of his 22 professional seasons playing in the U.S. Alex was the first pick of the 2010 OHL draft, and last season had 31 goals and 52 assists in 68 games. He had 2 goals and an assist in five games for Team USA at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and returned to take part in the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp in August. Despite suffering a major knee injury that nearly ended his season before it really began, Galchenyuk has maintained a monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2012 NHL Draft.
PITTSBURGH -- What a day it's been.
I slept pretty good last night, and today I woke up and had the weirdest feeling. It felt like I was playing my first game back from the injury -- the same kind of feeling.
Walking into the building on the red carpet, I felt like a movie star. That was a great experience. The NHL did a perfect job.
It was kind of an up and down feeling for me. I was kind of nervous but then I settled down. Then the teams started picking and I kind of got nervous again.
Hearing Yaki [Nail Yakupov] get picked first was great. He deserved it. He's a great friend of mine, and he's a great player. He deserved it a lot. I'm happy for him.
Then I was just sitting there. I didn't know what to expect. I was just sitting and waiting. Then when it was Montreal's turn, I didn't even hear my name called. I just heard Sarnia Sting and that was it. I just started hugging my parents and stuff. I was just so excited.
I was in my own zone walking down the stairs and up to the stage. It was just an unbelievable feeling. My heart was racing. I think the Commissioner said something to me, probably something like "Welcome to the NHL" and "Good job," but I don't really remember -- I was too excited.
Pulling that jersey over my head was unbelievable. They have the most tradition of any team in the NHL, they have the most Stanley Cups. It's an unbelievable feeling.
I'll just have some fun today and then get back to work tomorrow. There's a development camp to get ready for and we'll see where it goes from here. I know this is just the first step.
There's no discouragement in that room. There's no issues there at all to be honest with you. It's more about, 'Hey, it's opportunities for players.' And if we become that bad of a team because of one player, it's not a real good sign for our hockey club. So this is part of sports. It's part of hockey.
— Bruins coach Claude Julien on the loss of Zdeno Chara to injury