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Edmonton Oilers take Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with first pick in 2011 NHL draft

NHL.com @NHL

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Edmonton Oilers held on to their top pick while the Winnipeg Jets held on to their history.

Edmonton did the expected at the NHL draft Friday by taking Red Deer Rebels centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the first overall selection.

"I had a rough idea but I really didn't know what was going to happen," Nugent-Hopkins said. "I'm just relieved."

The six-foot, 170-pounder led the Western Hockey League with 75 assists last season. He also had 31 goals and finished fourth in league scoring with 106 points.

The Colorado Avalanche picked Kitchener Rangers left-winger Gabriel Landeskog at No. 2 and the Florida Panthers snagged Saint John centre Jonathan Huberdeau with the third pick.

Huberdeau finished third in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 105 points and was named MVP after leading the Sea Dogs to the Memorial Cup.

"I couldn't ask for anything more this season," Huberdeau said. "I did everything on the ice I had to do and we won everything, so it was great.

"Now it was up to a team to decide and I'm glad Florida took me."

The New Jersey Devils took Swedish defenceman Adam Larsson at No. 4, the New York Islanders selected Niagara IceDogs centre Ryan Strome at No. 5 and the Ottawa Senators picked Swedish centre Mika Zibanejad at No. 6.

"Obviously when a team brings you to Ottawa they're interested," Zibanejad said. "I had a feeling, but there were some good players battling for that spot and to go that early is an amazing feeling.

"I'll do everything I can to work hard and make the team."

When the time came for the Winnipeg selection at No. 7, True North chairman Mark Chipman formally announced that the team would be named the Jets. General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff then selected Barrie Colts centre Mark Scheifele.

Drummondville Voltigeurs centre Sean Couturier went eighth overall to the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins used the ninth pick to select Niagara IceDogs defenceman Dougie Hamilton. The host Minnesota Wild took Swedish blue-liner Jonas Brodin at No. 10.

The Oilers used last year's first overall pick to select forward Taylor Hall. This year, they picked the top-rated North American skater in the latest rankings from NHL Central Scouting.

Nugent-Hopkins, a native of Burnaby, B.C., was the first pick in the 2008 WHL bantam draft and was named the league's top rookie for the 2009-2010 season.

Landeskog, meanwhile, is considered the most physically mature player in the draft. He had 66 points in 53 games during a season shortened by an ankle injury.

The Montreal Canadiens took Saint John defenceman Nathan Beaulieu with the 17th pick before Edmonton made its second selection of the first round, taking Swedish defenceman Oscar Klefbom at No. 19.

Ottawa also had another pick in the first round and took Plymouth Whalers right-winger Stefan Noesen at No. 21.

The Senators weren't done there, dealing the 35th and 48th picks to the Detroit Red Wings for the 24th selection, which they used to take Peterborough Petes left-winger Matt Puempel.

The Toronto Maple Leafs moved up to take right-right Tyler Biggs with the 22nd pick. The Leafs sent their 30th and 39th overall selections to Anaheim in order to get the Ducks' pick.

Toronto then took Mississauga-St. Michael's Majors defenceman Stuart Percy with the No. 25 pick.

The Vancouver Canucks selected 29th and took Oshawa Generals winger Nicklas Jensen before Anaheim selected Plymouth Whalers right-winger Rickard Rakell 30th to complete the first round.

Rounds two through seven go Saturday.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman gave a "special welcome back" to the Winnipeg fans as he made his introductory comments. That prompted cheers and "Go Jets Go!" chants from a cluster of Winnipeg fans in the upper reaches of the Xcel Energy Center.

The draft started with a video tribute to E.J. McGuire, who died in April of cancer at age 58. He had been director of NHL Central Scouting since 2005.

McGuire's wife and two daughters joined Bettman on the stage during the tribute.

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