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2011 NHL Entry Draft
2011 NHL Entry Draft Hats

Canadians dominate first round of draft

Friday, 06.24.2011 / 11:24 PM / 2011 NHL Entry Draft

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

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Canadians dominate first round of draft
Half of the 30 players taken in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft on Friday are Canadian -- and even more come from the Canadian Hockey League.
Half of the 30 players taken in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft on Friday are Canadian -- and even more come from the Canadian Hockey League.

In all, 15 players born in Canada were taken in the opening round Friday night. That total doesn't include Sean Couturier, taken No. 8 by Philadelphia, who was born in Phoenix but played for Team Canada at the World Junior Championship. It does include Canadian-born Jamie Oleksiak, a defenseman from Northeastern University taken by Dallas with the 14th pick who has dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship; although he's played in under-18 for the United States, he hasn't indicated which country he'll represent internationally.

The second, fourth and sixth players taken in the draft were Swedes -- Gabriel Landeskog went No. 2 to Colorado, Adam Larsson was chosen No. 4 by New Jersey and Mika Zibanejad was chosen No. 6 by Ottawa. In all, a record six of the 30 first-rounders were Swedish.

Five U.S.-born players were taken, beginning with Couturier, and followed by forward J.T, Miller, who was taken 15th by the New York Rangers. Connor Murphy (No. 20 to Phoenix), Stefan Noesen (No. 21 to Ottawa) and Tyler Biggs (No. 22 to Toronto) were taken on consecutive picks.

The first Russian-born player wasn't taken until Tampa Bay chose Vladislav Namestnikov with the 27th pick. Namestnikov, whose father John played briefly in the NHL, plays for London of the Ontario Hockey League.

Three other countries also had one player taken: Sven Baertchi, who was born in the Czech Republic but plays internationally for Switzerland as well as for Portland of the Western Hockey League, went No. 13 to Calgary. Finland's Joel Armia went 16th to Buffalo -- the first non-North American taken by Buffalo since 2006. Nicklas Jensen of Denmark, who plays for Oshawa of the OHL, went to Vancouver at No. 29.

The big winner in the opening round was the CHL, which accounted for 21 of the 30 first-round selections. Four others played in Sweden in 2010-11, Armia played in Finland, three played for the U.S. National Team Development Program in the USHL and Oleksiak played U.S. college hockey.