|Steven Stamkos, being greeted by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, was selected with the No. 1 pick in the NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night.
The Tampa Bay Lightning did what they were expected to do Friday by taking Sarnia Sting center Steve Stamkos with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 Entry Draft.
After that, the rest of the unpredictable night belonged to defensemen and deals.
The premium that NHL teams are placing on talented defensemen was apparent early, as the next four picks all were used on blueliners. In all, 10 of the first 20 picks and 12 of the 30 in the opening round were defensemen.
Of those 30 picks, only 12 were made by the team that originally owned the choice. After Tampa Bay took Stamkos, the consensus No. 1 pick, Los Angeles began a parade of four straight defensemen by choosing Drew Doughty
from the Ontario Hockey League's Guelph Storm. Atlanta nabbed Zach Bogosian and St. Louis took Alex Pietrangelo.
But by then, the trade market was already in full swing.
Florida dealt its captain and No. 1 center, 34-goal scorer Olli Jokinen, to Phoenix for defensemen Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton and a second-round pick. Calgary sent center Alex Tanguay to Montreal for the 25th pick in the first round and dealt the 17th pick to Los Angeles in a trade for center Michael Cammalleri. The Kings then dealt that pick and the 28th choice to Anaheim for the 12th choice -- which it later wound up dealing away.
The New York Islanders traded down twice, picking up two second-round picks and a third-rounder in deals with Toronto and Nashville. Phoenix wound up taking Viktor Tikhonov with the 28th pick -- its second of the first round and a choice that went from Dallas to Los Angeles to Anaheim before the Coyotes dealt away a couple of second-round choices to get another first-rounder.
The prize of the night was Stamkos, a 58-goal, 105-point scorer and a player the Lightning had targeted since winning the Draft Lottery on April 7. The Bolts resisted some tempting offers for the pick.
"There were some people who came in and made offers," GM Jay Feaster said. "I just used the standard that if we weren't being sold, that if I were just reporting to
Ron Campbell, my boss, as normal, I wouldn't have bothered him with a phone call."
Stamkos said he plans to play in the NHL this fall.
"That's my goal coming in," the 6-foot-1, 176-pounder said. "I've been working pretty hard to get ready for that. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make it to the National Hockey League as an 18-year-old. Hopefully all goes well and I'll play my first NHL game in October."
Feaster thinks he can do it.
"We think he's going to play for us," he said. "We think he can step in. We want him to learn from (Vincent) Lecavalier and (Martin) St. Louis."
The selection of Doughty, Bogosian and Pietrangelo preceded a deal that enabled the Toronto Maple Leafs to select Luke Schenn of the WHL's Kelowna Rockets. Columbus broke the string of defensemen by taking Russian forward Nikita Filatov -- but not before they also landed center R.J. Umberger, an Ohio State product, from Philadelphia in a deal that sent the 19th overall pick to the Flyers.
The selection of Filatov triggered a run on forwards. Nashville traded with the Islanders to move up and take Colin Wilson of Boston University, the son of former NHLer Carey Wilson.
Phoenix took Mikkel Boedker, a left wing from Kitchener of the OHL and a native of Denmark. The Islanders tabbed Windsor Spitfires center Josh Bailey, Vancouver took Brampton center Cody Hodgson and Chicago chose center Kyle Beach from Everett of the WHL.
Then it was back to defensemen. Buffalo moved up to take 6-foot-7 Tyler Myers of Kelowna and Los Angeles took Regina's Colten Teubert. After Carolina took speedy forward Zach Boychuk of Lethbridge, Ottawa traded up to nab Swedish defenseman Erik Karlsson.
Boston and Anaheim took long-term projects. The Bruins took 6-foot-5 center Joe Colborne, who's headed for the University of Denver, from Camrose of the Alberta Junior Hockey League at No. 16, while the Ducks chose Minnesota high school defenseman Jake Gardiner at No. 17.
Nashville took the first goaltender, Chet Pickard of Tri-City of the WHL, at No. 18 before Philadelphia and the Rangers added defensemen. The Flyers took Lethbridge's Luca Sbisa and the Rangers tabbed Oshawa's Michael Del Zotto.
By then, half of the 20 picks had been used defensemen. The pace slowed in the final 10 choices of the first round, though the dealing did not.
Washington traded up with New Jersey to get Sweden's Anton Gustafsson, the son of former Washington star Bengt Gustafsson. After Edmonton took Regina center Jordan Eberle at No. 22, the Devils traded down again, dropping down one pick while Minnesota took defensemen by taking Tyler Cuma from Ottawa of the OHL.
New Jersey used the 24th pick to nab Swedish forward Mattias Tedenby. Calgary used the pick it got from Montreal for Tanguay to select Windsor center Greg Nemisz.
Buffalo, picking 26th with a choice obtained from San Jose in the deal that sent Brian Campbell to the Sharks at the trade deadline, chose Tyler Ennis, a 146-pound center who scored 43 goals and 91 points for Medicine Hat of the WHL.
Washington got a second first-rounder by dealing defenseman Steve Eminger and the 84th pick to Philadelphia and chose USHL defenseman John Carlsson. Phoenix took Viktor Tikhonov before Atlanta tabbed another small speedster, Michigan State-bound Dalton Leveille, a 29-goal scorer with St. Catherines of the OHL. Detroit completed the opening round by taking Guelph goaltender Jack McCollum.
The final six rounds of the Draft will be held Saturday. Don't be surprised to see more dealings when the selection process resumes.
Author: John Kreiser | NHL.com Columnist