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Host Penguins steal the show at NHL Draft

by Shawn P. Roarke

The Penguins seized their moment in the spotlight as hosts of the 2012 NHL Draft.

On a wild night of fireworks -- both in the first-round selections and the trades that were consummated around those selections -- Pittsburgh was constantly at the forefront Friday at Consol Energy Center.

After playing the good host by allowing the Edmonton Oilers to make the night's first news with the selection of Nail Yakupov at No. 1, Pittsburgh seized the spotlight less than an hour later with a headline-grabbing trade of star center Jordan Staal, who was shipped to the Carolina Hurricanes for a first-round pick, center Brandon Sutter and a highly regarded prospect. The deal unites Jordan Staal with his older brother Eric, the Hurricanes' captain and top scorer.


Jordan Staal dealt to Hurricanes

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer
In the biggest news of the first round, the Penguins traded Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes for the No. 8 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, center Brandon Sutter and defense prospect Brian Dumoulin. READ MORE ›

"I always felt that up until at some point today that Jordan was going to be back with us next year," said general manager Ray Shero, whose offer of a long-term deal was turned down earlier in the week. "We’ve had a great relationship and he was a very important player for our team.
"A couple teams were pretty aggressive today, one being Carolina. We just felt as an organization that Jordan is at the point of his career where it is time to really take the next step in his development and the Carolina deal really made sense with the assets we got in return. It was a fair deal for both parties. "

But that blockbuster had to wait until some of the Draft's biggest names found out their first NHL address.

Yakupov, a Russian who has been compared to Pavel Bure, scored 49 goals and 101 points in 2010-11 as a rookie for the OHL's Sarnia Sting, both totals breaking franchise rookie marks previously held by Steven Stamkos.

Yet his selection was not assured until GM Steve Tambellini stepped onto the stage and called out the Russian's name. There had been a fair amount of speculation that the Oilers might go with a defenseman -- particularly Ryan Murray -- to address an organizational need.

In the end, though, the Oilers resisted the temptation to pass on a player who could make an impact this season -- something Yakupov plans on doing.

"I think yeah, why not?" Yakupov said when asked if he could make the Oilers out of training camp. "I have lots of time for work in the summer and work with Edmonton, [to] try to make the team. I think I'm ready for the NHL."

Columbus followed by taking Murray and Montreal used a rare top-3 pick to take offensive forward Alex Galchenyuk, who was a teammate of Yakupov with Sarnia but missed most of the 2011-12 season with a knee injury.

With the fourth pick, the Islanders -- who traded for defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky early in the evening -- took Griffin Reinhart, an offensive defenseman with Edmonton of the Western Hockey League and the son of former NHL defenseman Paul Reinhart. That began a run that saw defenseman selected with 10 straight picks. In all, 13 defenseman were selected in the first round, tying the record established in 1996.

"We had a great crop of [defensemen] in this draft, and to be in that conversation is a huge honor," Moose Jaw's Morgan Rielly told shortly after being taken by Toronto at No. 5. Swedish defenseman Hampus Lindholm went at No. 6, to Anaheim before Matt Dumba went to Minnesota.

After that, the Penguins decided they had played the good host long enough, announcing the blockbuster trade with Carolina. In addition to Sutter and defensive prospect Brian Dumoulin, Pittsburgh received Carolina's pick at No. 8 and used it to select Canadian defenseman Derrick Pouliot, who scored 59 points for Portland of the WHL.

"Brandon is the key to the deal for us. We really like Derrick Pouliot a lot and Brian Dumoulin is a key asset as well, but an NHL-ready Brandon Sutter -- he’s a proven player in the League," Shero said. "He’s a young player. He’s signed. We love the character. We love what he brings."

Pittsburgh made another splash at No. 22, selecting Finnish defenseman Olli Maatta, who played for London of the OHL. Maatta was considered one of the fastest risers on the board and had surprisingly fallen into the bottom third of the first round.

Shero capped a busy night in the waning moments of the first round, completing a deal to send defenseman Zbynek Michalek back to Phoenix in exchange for Harrison Ruopp, goaltender Marc Cheverie and a third-round pick (No. 81) on Saturday.


Oilers grab Yakupov with No. 1 pick

By Mike G. Morreale - 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 ›

"Today we did clear some [salary]-cap space with the Staal and the Michalek trade, and we’ll see where that’s going to lead us," Shero said.

But Shero could not monopolize the drama on Day 1.

Pittsburgh's rival, the Washington Capitals, also had a nice day, making a trade to acquire proven scorer Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars before selecting Swedish center Filip Forsberg at No. 11 and taking Plymouth right wing Tom Wilson five picks later.

Pittsburgh's fiercest rival, Philadelphia, opened eyes by selecting Oshawa's Scott Laughton, a two-way center who has excelled in the role of shutdown pivot. He was No. 28 among North American skaters on the final list released by Central Scouting.

Buffalo also made some waves, trading with Calgary to move from No. 21 to No. 14 in order to select Zemgus Grigensons just two picks after it had taken Russian center Mikhail Grigorenko, who was the No. 3-rated prospect.

The end of the draft was also filled with intrigue, mostly revolving around family ties.

At No. 24, Boston selected goalie Malcolm Subban from Belleville of the OHL. Malcolm is the younger brother of P.K. Subban, a defenseman for the rival Montreal Canadiens.

"I don’t know if he’s going to like me too much," Malcolm said. "But to be honest, I never liked him that much."

At No. 27, Henrik Samuelson went to the Phoenix Coyotes. Samuelsson is the son of retired NHL defenseman Ulf Samuelsson, who served as an assistant coach for the Coyotes from 2006 to 2011.

Two picks later, the New Jersey Devils selected USNTDP forward Stefan Matteau, who just happens to be the son of the man who scored the most painful goal ever scored against the organization. Stephane Matteau, then with the New York Rangers, scored the winning goal double overtime of Game 7 in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals to deny New Jersey its first berth in the Stanley Cup Final.

GM Lou Lamoriello said he had no qualms selecting the son of the architect of a loss that still rankles New Jersey fans to this day.

"There was no question of where he was rated," Lamoriello said. "And even in the meeting [Friday] night his name came up with reference to is it a concern and I said, 'Absolutely, unequivocally no. A player is a player."
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