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NHL Draft

Nuggets, numbers, notes from 2016 Draft

Record 12 U.S.-born players go in opening round, first Belgian selected, fewest goalies chosen since 1986

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Director of Editorial

BUFFALO -- The 2016 NHL Draft is complete after 211 selections at First Niagara Center.

Here are some noteworthy nuggets, numbers and notes from the past two days:


USA Hockey had a banner first day at the draft Friday. In all, 12 U.S. players were selected in the first round, starting with No. 1 pick Auston Matthews, the first United States-born player to be taken with the first selection since Patrick Kane in 2007.

Things did not slow up on Day 2; in all, the NHL says 52 U.S.-born players were chosen.

This continues a strong surge of U.S. players into the pro ranks. At the 2015 Draft, 55 Americans, including seven-first round selections, were chosen.

Video: 12 Americans taken in Round 1 record

Finland vs. Sweden

Finland got the upper hand on its Scandinavian rival on Day 1, when three Finns went in the top five for the first time in the history of the draft. Right wing Patrik Laine was chosen at No. 2 to the Winnipeg Jets, right wing Jesse Puljujarvi went to the Edmonton Oilers at No. 4 and defenseman Olli Juolevi landed with the Vancouver Canucks at No. 5.

Florida took center Henrik Borgstrom at No. 23 to make it four Finns in the first round. No Swedes were taken in Round 1.

But the Swedes caught up on Saturday, when 24 were selected in the final six rounds. The first was Rasmus Asplund, taken by the host Buffalo Sabres at No. 33. Finland had 11 players selected on Saturday.

Final count: Sweden 24, Finland 15.

What a Knight!

The London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League won the Memorial Cup last month and, this weekend, they were further rewarded as seven of their players were taken in the draft, including three in the first round.

The seven were: D Olli Juolevi, Vancouver Canucks (No. 5); LW Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames (No. 6); LW Max Jones, Anaheim Ducks (No. 24); G Tyler Parsons, Calgary Flames (No. 54); RW Cliff Pu, Buffalo Sabres (No. 69); D Victor Mete, Montreal Canadiens (No. 100); D Nicolas Mattinen, Toronto Maple Leafs (No. 179).

London has had 11 players drafted in the past three years, including four first-round picks.

Video: Canucks draft D Olli Juolevi No. 5

Pride of Belgium

Goalie Wouter Peeters was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks at No. 83. He is the first Belgian-born and -trained player to be selected in the draft.

Ironically, the player selected two picks before Peeters, defenseman Sean Day (New York Rangers), was also born in Belgium. However, his family moved to Canada shortly after he was born and settled in the Detroit area. He is a Canadian citizen who has represented Canada in international competition.

Drought worsens

For the second time in four years, the Czech Republic only had four players drafted. It also happened in 2013.

D Libor Hajek was the highest Czech selected in the 2016 Draft, going No. 37 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. D Filip Hronek also went in the second round, at No. 53 to the Detroit Red Wings.

The Czech Republic had 11 players selected in 2015 and eight in 2014.

Thirty-nine Czech players made at least one NHL appearance this season.

Long and short of it

The players selected in the 2016 Draft ran the spectrum when it came to size and shape.

Russian defenseman Oleg Susonov, selected by the Lightning at No. 178, was the tallest player picked at 6-foot-8. Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, who's 6-9, is the tallest NHL player. Canadian defenseman Keaton Middleton, picked by the Maple Leafs at No. 101, was the heaviest player at 235 pounds.

Canadian center Matthew Phillips, taken by Calgary at No. 166, was the lightest player at 140 pounds. Phillips, at 5-foot-6, was also the shortest player selected. His lack of size was not a hindrance this season, when he had 37 goals and 76 points in 72 games with Victoria in the Western Hockey League.

Goaltending out of fashion

There were 18 goalies selected in the 2016 Draft, the fewest since 19 were taken in 2011.

Carter Hart of Everett in the Western Hockey League was the first goalie picked, taken by the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round (No. 48). It is the latest a goaltender was chosen in 30 years. In the 1986 draft, Shawn Simpson was chosen by the Washington Capitals in the third round (No. 60).

Nine of the 18 goalies in this year's draft were taken in the final three rounds.

Video: Carter Hart joins the guys live on NHL Tonight

Home Cooking

The local fans who represented the majority of the fans inside First Niagara Center had plenty to cheer, and jeer, during the draft.

The hometown Buffalo Sabres had 10 selections. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo's closest rival, had 11, the most of any team.

Buffalo took six forwards and four defensemen, led by first-round pick Alexander Nylander, a left wing who plays for Mississauga in the Ontario Hockey League. Older brother William Nylander made his NHL debut with Toronto this season.

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