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A little bit of everything in Round 1 of Draft

by Phil Coffey
MONTREAL -- John Tavares to the New York Islanders, Victor Hedman to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chris Pronger to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Yes, Round 1 of the 2009 Entry Draft had a little bit of everything for everyone at Bell Centre.

That included some intrigue. Rumors swirled in the moments prior to the first selection Friday night that the Islanders would throw the draft into a tizzy by going outside the top two names -- Tavares and Hedman -- with the first pick.

At about the same time, the Flyers announced the acquisition of Pronger from Anaheim in exchange for forward Joffrey Lupul, defenseman Luca Sbisa and a couple of first-round draft picks.

Needless to say, never a dull moment.

Here is a look at the first-round selections.

No. 1 John Tavares, New York Islanders -- A gifted scorer who has been under the microscope for four junior seasons, Tavares was the top-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting and the people's choice on Long Island. Great from the blue line in, Tavares is expected to step into the NHL as early as next season and help energize the Islanders' offense.

In his fourth Ontario Hockey League season, Tavares led the league in goals with 58 in 56 games (58-46-104) in 2008-09, including 50 points (32-18-50) in 24 games after being traded to the London Knights. He set an OHL goal-scoring record, surpassing Peter Lee’s 33-year-old mark with his 214th goal on March 8, 2009. He finished with a total of 215 career goals (215-218-433) in 247 games.

Internationally, Tavares won back-to-back gold medals with Team Canada at the 2008 and 2009 World Junior Championships. With a more prominent role in 2009, he scored eight goals (8-7-15) to bring his World Junior goal total to 12 (12-8-20) -- tying Eric Lindros and Jeff Carter for most goals in a career by a Canadian at the World Junior Championships.

No. 2 Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning -- Adding a 6-foot-6 defenseman is the dream of any NHL team. It became a reality for the Lightning when they chose Hedman, the top-ranked European.

"Victor's addition to the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight immediately makes us a better team," Bolts GM Brian Lawton said. "In addition to his enormous size and great skating ability, he brings the Lightning a heightened maturity level for someone his age because of his two years of pro experience in Sweden. He brightens up our weakest area and we look for him to be a defensive anchor for a long, long time in Tampa."

For the second year in a row, Hedman represented Team Sweden at the World Junior Championships, winning a silver medal each year. He was born in Ornskoldsvik -- a town of less than 55,000 people known for producing star NHL players, including Peter Forsberg, Markus Naslund, Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Niklas Sundstrom.

No. 3 Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche -- For Duchene, going to the Avalanche should put him on the fast track to the NHL as the Avs are in rebuilding mode.

And with Duchene, they get quite a player to rebuild with. He scored 31 goals and 48 assists in just 57 games with Brampton of the OHL last season and is well-regarded for his excellent two-way game.

In his second year with Brampton, Duchene was third on the team in scoring with 31-48-79 in 59 games and was voted the Best Playmaker and Best Stickhandler in the OHL Eastern Conference Coaches Poll. Duchene played in the 2009 OHL All-Star Classic, the CHL Top Prospects Game and won a gold medal as captain of Team Canada at the Under-18 Ivan Hlinka tournament. In fact, he won three international gold medals in an eight-month span in 2008, also winning gold at the Under-18 World Championships and at the World Under-17 Challenge with Team Ontario.

No. 4 Evander Kane, Atlanta Thrashers -- Kane became the third center selected in the first four picks when the Thrashers called the name of the Vancouver Giants' standout.

After a successful rookie season of 41 points in 2007-08, including 24 goals in 65 games and a nomination for WHL Rookie of the Year, Kane doubled his goal production (48) and totaled 96 points (48-48-96) in 61 games to rank second in the WHL.

Kane was named to the WHL Western Conference First All-Star Team and competed in the 2009 CHL Top Prospects game, playing on a line with Duchene and Victoriaville forward Andrej Nestrasil. He won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2009 World Junior Championships, recording six points (2-4-6). Kane was initially cut from the 2009 roster, but joined the team a few days before the tournament, replacing injured forward Dana Tyrell.

No. 5 Brayden Schenn, Los Angeles Kings -- Family ties always are present at the Entry Draft and surfaced again when, with the fifth selection, the Kings took forward Brayden Schenn, the brother of Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn -- last year's No. 5 pick.

"It's a little bit of an advantage for me, him going through the same things I'm going through now," Brayden said. "He's always giving me tips. When we were younger, we always competed against each other, pushed each other, made each other better. When he comes back home, we work out together. We play three-on-three summer hockey together. We spend a lot of time together, we like to hang out."

Brayden is regarded as a strong all-around center, evidenced by 32 goals and 56 assists in 70 games with Brandon, the second season in which he led his team in scoring.

No. 6 Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Phoenix Coyotes -- The Coyotes went back to the defensive ranks for their top pick, with Sweden's Oliver Ekman-Larsson getting the call at No. 6.

Ekman-Larsson, 17, appeared in 39 games with Leksand of Sweden’s second-highest professional league (Sweden-2), where he scored 3 goals and 14 assists. He was the youngest player on his team and led the league with a plus-44 rating. He also played for Sweden at the 2009 Under-18 World Championship, collecting 2 goals and 6 assists in six games.

“We are thrilled to select Oliver with the sixth overall pick,” Coyotes GM Don Maloney said. “He is a multitalented defenseman with tremendous potential and we believe he’ll play a big role in the future of the Coyotes.”

No. 7 Nazem Kadri, Toronto Maple Leafs -- The Leafs held on to this pick, one that had been rumored to be going to any numbers of places in the pre-draft rumor fest, and delighted many in attendance with Kadri's selection.

Another center, Kadri is a 5-11, 167-pounder who scored 25 goals and 53 assists in just 56 games for London last season. Despite being slowed down by a broken jaw, he led the OHL with 10 shorthanded points (5-5-10) and finished ninth in the league in assists. He finished second in team scoring behind Tavares with 78 points.

As a member of the Kitchener Rangers in 2007-08, Kadri had 26 points (9-17) in the 2008 playoffs, helping lead them to an OHL championship and the Memorial Cup final.

No. 8 Scott Glennie, Dallas Stars -- In a dozen playoff games, Glennie picked up 15 assists and 18 points. During the regular season, Glennie averaged 1.27 points per game and had 28 goals and 42 assists in 55 games. Those stats made Glennie very enticing to the Stars, who are coming off a rare non-playoff season.

Scott Glennie was mislabeled earlier in the year as perhaps being only a finisher for often linemate Brayden Schenn," NHL Central Scouting Director E.J. Maguire said. "Yet Scott took matters into his own hands with an equal number of goals and assists and contributed greatly this season with a power forward type attitude. Glennie might remind the fan of NHL players with power forward abilities coming off the wall like Jonathan Cheechoo and Jonathan Toews -- that kind of offensive ability.”

No. 9 Jared Cowen, Ottawa Senators -- Cowen is a big, imposing defenseman at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds. The concern regarding Cowen in the short term is a knee injury that ended his season in January and may slow him coming into the 2009-10 season. Before the injury, Cowen was a plus-15 and had scored 7 goals and 14 assists in 48 games.

During the 2007-08 season, Cowen helped the Spokane Chiefs to the Memorial Cup championship.

“He's going to be a top defenseman in the National Hockey League," Central Scouting's Blair MacDonald said. "It might take him a couple years to get used to the quicker speeds, but I think he's going to be a big, reliable guy back there for a couple years. We saw him turn his game up a couple notches last year in the Memorial Cup run and I think that was a pretty good indicator of what he's going to be like.”

No. 10 Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Edmonton Oilers -- The second-ranked European skater, Paajarvi-Svensson, 17, played against much older players in the Swedish Elite League this season, scoring 7 goals and 10 assists in 50 games. He is the fourth-youngest player ever in Elite League history.

Paajarvi-Svensson won back-to-back silver medals with Team Sweden at the World Junior Championships, finishing tied for second on the team with seven points (2-5) in six games in 2009. In 2008, he became the youngest Swede to play in the World Junior Championship and the youngest player since Sidney Crosby debuted in 2004.

No. 11 Ryan Ellis, Nashville Predators -- Ellis, 17, already has proven he can play under pressure. He was a member of Team Canada's 2009 World Junior Championship team, becoming the youngest defenseman to play for Canada since Jay Bouwmeester in 2001. Ellis was a plus-6 in the tournament, totaling seven points (1-6) in six games.

During the 2008-09 season, Ellis was all over the map. He played in the 2008 Canada/Russia Challenge, was named to the 2009 Western Conference OHL All-Star Classic and selected to participate in the 2009 CHL Top Prospects Game. In the annual OHL Coaches Poll, Ellis was selected first in three Western Conference categories: Smartest Player, Hardest Shot and Best Offensive Defenseman.

No. 12 Calvin de Haan, New York Islanders -- Swapping three picks to the Minnesota Wild (Nos. 16, 77 and 182), the Islanders moved up to take de Haan, an Oshawa defenseman who piled up 55 assists in 68 games for the Generals last season.

In his first season in the Ontario Hockey League, de Haan finished second in the league among rookie defensemen and first among Oshawa defensemen with 63 points (8-55-63) in 68 games in 2008-09. His year was highlighted by a selection to the OHL All-Star Classic as well as the 2009 CHL Top Prospects Game. He was also named Oshawa’s Rookie of the Year and Top Defenseman.

No. 13 Zach Kassian, Buffalo Sabres -- In his second year with the OHL's Peterborough Petes, Kassian finished second in scoring with 69 points (36-33-69) in 61 games, including 13 power-play goals. He is known for his physical play, also finishing in the top 20 in the OHL with 136 penalty minutes.

No. 14 Dmitry Kulikov, Florida Panthers -- In his first season with Drummondville of the Quebec League, Kulikov led all defensemen with 62 points (12-50) in 57 games and was named the 2008-09 Defensive Rookie of the Year, Rookie of the Year, the Best Professional Prospect and Defenseman of the Year by the QMJHL. In other words, he caught everyone's attention.

He had 4 assists to help Russia win the bronze medal at the 2009 World Junior Championships. He has twice represented Russia at the Under-18 World Championships, winning silver in 2008 and gold in 2007.

No. 15 Peter Holland, Anaheim Ducks -- Holland’s successful second season with the OHL's Guelph Storm saw him register 28 goals and 39 assists. He also led the team with four goals in four games against Saginaw in the playoffs.

Holland was all over the place in 2008-09, playing in the 2008 Canada/Russia Challenge, 2009 OHL All-Star Classic and '09 CHL Top Prospects Game.

No. 16 Nick Leddy, Minnesota Wild -- How's this for karma?  Nick Leddy, Minnesota's "Mr. Hockey", was selected by the hometown Wild.

In 2008-09, Leddy led his high school team to the Class 2A State Championship, the first ever for Eden Prairie. After turning down an offer to play for the U.S. National Training Development Program, he led all defensemen on his team in scoring with 37 points (8-29) in 25 games.

No. 17 David Rundblad, St. Louis Blues -- Rundblad competed in the Swedish Elite League for Skellefteå in 2008-09. As a 17-year-old rookie, he held his own on the blue line while picking up 10 assists in 45 games. He spent 10 games with the junior team this season, showing his offensive side by contributing 15 points (8-7).

At the 2009 World Junior Championships, Rundblad helped Sweden win a silver medal, finishing with a plus-3 rating and two points (1-1) in six games.

No. 18 Louis Leblanc, Montreal Canadiens -- A very popular pick with the hometown crowd, Leblanc was named the United States Hockey League Rookie of the Year in 2008-09 after leading Omaha in points (59) and finishing tied for eighth among USHL skaters in goals (28). He will attend Harvard University in the fall.

"The most impressive things about Louis Leblanc are his hands and his evasiveness with the puck; that separates him from other players on the ice right away," Central Scouting's Jack Barzee said. "He needs to fill out a little bit yet, but he has the frame to be a big center. The other part of Leblanc’s game that I noticed was his vision; his ability to see and dissect a play and to make the right play. He’s also very competitive and he gets involved in the play.”

No. 19 Chris Kreider, New York Rangers -- The Rangers dipped into the American high school ranks at No. 19, selecting Kreider, a center who was the top-ranked high school player. Kreider had 56 points (33-23) in just 26 games with Andover in 2008-09. The Boxford, Mass., native is still in 11th grade at Phillips Academy and plans to attend Boston College in the fall of 2010.

No. 20 Jacob Josefson, New Jersey Devils -- The Devils acquired Calgary's pick, No. 20, for the 23rd pick and another selection and took Josefson, a Swede who was the third-ranked European prospect.

Earning his spot on Djurgården's senior elite team, Josefson played against men at age 17, totaling 16 points (5-11) in 50 games. In 2007-08, he played for Djurgården's junior team, recording 31 points (14-17) in 34 games.

No. 21 John Moore, Columbus Blue Jackets -- The Jackets traded a couple times in the first round before finally settling in at No. 21 and taking Moore, who was named the USHL Defenseman of the Year and entered the draft as the highest-ranked USHL player by Central Scouting.

Moore won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2008 World Junior A Challenge, adding two assists in five games in his first international hockey experience. He will attend Colorado College this fall.

No. 22 Jordan Schroeder, Vancouver Canucks -- Schroeder finished second on the University of Minnesota with 45 points (13-32-45) in 35 games this season and was fourth in the NCAA with a 1.30 points per game average. He was the only freshman in the top 50 in scoring.

Schroeder was named the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s Rookie of the Year, the College Hockey News National Rookie of the Year, the Minnesota Gophers Rookie of the Year and to the All-WCHA Second Team.

His selection was announced by Canucks captain Roberto Luongo.

No. 23 Tim Erixon, Calgary Flames -- An interesting hybrid, Erixon was born in the United States while his father, Jan, played for the New York Rangers. He moved back to Sweden and played on his first team in his hometown of Skelleftea at the age of 5.

Erixon played most of 2008-09 with Skelleftea AIK in the Swedish Elite League. Against much older competition, he had seven points (2-5) and was plus-5 in 45 games. In international play, his season was highlighted by a strong showing at the World Junior Championships, where he helped Sweden win silver.

No. 24 Marcus Johansson, Washington Capitals -- Playing for Farjestad in the Swedish Elite League in 2008-09, Johansson scored 5 goals and 5 assists in 45 games. He gained valuable experience as an 18-year-old, helping his club win the Swedish championship.

He scored twice for Sweden at the '09 World Juniors.

No. 25 Jordan Caron, Boston Bruins -- The Bruins aren't used to being cheered in Montreal, but their selection of Rimouski's Caron was a big hit.

Caron's 36 goals this season were tops on his team and tied him for 11th overall in the "Q." Caron also represented the QMJHL at the 2008 Canada/Russia Challenge and was selected to participate in the 2009 CHL Top Prospects game.

No. 26 Kyle Palmieri, Anaheim Ducks -- In 33 games with the U.S. Under-18 National Training Development Program this season, Palmieri had 15 goals, including four game-winners, and 30 points (15-15-30).

Before playing for the NTDP, Palmieri was a member of the New Jersey Devils Under-16 team and St. Peter’s Prep in New Jersey. Palmieri also played in the 2008 Under-18 World Championships, helping Team USA win a bronze medal.

No. 27 Philippe Paradis, Carolina Hurricanes -- Paradis helped lead the Shawinigan Cataractes to the QMJHL finals, where they fell to Drummondville in seven games. He had 12 points (6-6), including two game-winning goals, in 21 playoff games in 2009. During the regular season, he posted 50 points (19-31) in 66 games.

No. 28 Dylan Olsen, Chicago Blackhawks -- In his second full season in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, Olsen led Camrose defensemen in scoring with 10 goals (10-19-29) in 53 games and was selected to the CJHL Prospects game. He has committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth for 2009.

No. 29 Carter Ashton, Tampa Bay Lightning -- The Lightning made a deal with Detroit to acquire this selection and take Ashton, the son of former NHL forward Brent Ashton.

Carter Ashton rebounded strongly from an injury-shortened season in 2007-08 to lead Lethbridge with 30 goals and finished the season with 50 points in 70 games

No. 30 Simon Després, Pittsburgh Penguins -- Despres was the No. 8 North American prospect according to NHL Central Scouting, and his selection was met by a big ovation by the fans.

In 2008-09, Després led his team with a plus-16 rating and was tops in defensive scoring with 32 points (2-30-32) in 66 games. He represented Team Canada as an assistant captain at 2009 Under-18 World Championships in Fargo, N.D., finishing fourth in the tournament with two assists and a plus-five rating. He was also a member of Canada's gold-medal team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament in 2008.  

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