ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota is home to a multitude of Scandinavian descendants, particularly Sweden.
So this was the perfect place for Swedes to dominate the NHL draft.
For the first time in league history, four players born in Sweden were among the top 10 selections. There were a record-tying six Swedes taken in the first round Friday night, matching the totals from 1993 and 2009.
"It's really cool," said defenseman Jonas Brodin, who went to the hometown Wild with the 10th pick.
Left wing Gabriel Landeskog was selected second by the Colorado Avalanche. Defenseman Adam Larsson went fourth to the New Jersey Devils. Mika Zibanejad was taken with the sixth pick by the Ottawa Senators.
"I know those guys. They're really good guys. It's very good for Sweden," Brodin said.
The seven top-10 picks from Sweden in the last three years matches the number of top-10 Swedes over the 23 years before that. Clearly, the talent pool in the northern European hockey hotbed is continuing to grow.
Half of the 30 first-rounders hail from Canada, including the first pick by the Edmonton Oilers, center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Western Hockey League. Five of them are Americans, with one each from Denmark, Finland, Russia and Switzerland.
Zibanejad, if he makes the team, will join a couple of Swedes on the Senators roster, including captain Daniel Alfredsson.
"I think being a part of the team with the Swedes is helping a lot," Zibanejad said. "I think I can take that as an advantage, for sure."
Landeskog had 36 goals in 53 games last season for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. Larsson played two full seasons for Skelleftea and was the third blue-liner in Swedish Elite League history to make his debut at age 16. Zibanejad - born in Stockholm to a Finnish mother and an Iranian father - played for Djurgarden. Brodin played for Farjestad.
The remaining rounds, two through seven, will take place on Saturday. There were a handful of trades that headlined the first day, too.
The Senators added a third first-rounder, acquiring No. 24 from the Detroit Red Wings for a pair of second-round picks. The Anaheim Ducks moved down from No. 22 to No. 30, acquiring a second-round pick from Toronto.
The Maple Leafs added defenseman John-Michael Liles from the Avalanche for a second-round pick in 2012, and the Blackhawks gained a second first-round selection, No. 26, from the Washington Capitals for left wing Troy Brouwer.
"We're trying to improve our team, and there are going to be changes made when you don't reach your ultimate goal," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "You need to look to get better, and we're trying to do that building from within as well as acquiring new players."
He added: "It's not the worst thing to go into the season with salary-cap room."
The Blackhawks then created even more cap room by dealing defenseman Brian Campbell to the Florida Panthers for forward Rostislav Olesz.
The biggest deal, though, involved the hometown team.
The Wild traded All-Star defenseman Brent Burns and their second-round pick in 2012 to San Jose, receiving a first-round pick from the Sharks, No. 28, and a pair of forwards, Devin Setoguchi and Charlie Coyle.
Setoguchi, a former 30-goal scorer, agreed to a $9 million, three-year contract the day before. Coyle, a first-round pick last year, has been playing for Boston University.
The Wild have missed the playoffs for three straight years, and general manager Chuck Fletcher spoke of the need to "aggressively" add young players to keep up with the rest of the league.
"We added the equivalent of four first-round picks," Fletcher said. "We gave up a very important piece in Brent Burns, but our timeframe needs to be stretched back a bit and we need to add more young players. We very quickly assembled a lot of young talent."
Nugent-Hopkins was the first to go Friday night, starting a run of centers with six of the first eight selections. The first WHL player to be drafted first since 1996, he led the league with 75 assists last season for the Red Deer Rebels.
The Oilers were slotted first overall for the second straight year. Nugent-Hopkins eventually could find his way onto a line with left wing Taylor Hall, last year's first pick.
"He was so great to talk to. Everything looks good right now," Nugent-Hopkins said. "He just said, 'Enjoy this whole experience. You're going to be nervous and stuff, but try to enjoy it as much as you can."'
As for their chemistry?
"I guess we'll never know until we get on the ice together, but hopefully we do. I can see it working," Nugent-Hopkins said.
To get there, Nugent-Hopkins has to bulk up. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 164 pounds, he said this week he's added 10 pounds to that total since the end of his junior season and plans to pack on five more.
"Steak and potatoes, mostly," he said when asked about his diet. "Just trying to put some weight on."
Nugent-Hopkins said he's heard general manager Steve Tambellini is in "no rush" to bring him to Edmonton.
"If I do go back to junior, I won't be disappointed at all," Nugent-Hopkins said. "It'll be a great opportunity for us as Red Deer as a team to hopefully get to the Memorial Cup. Personally, it'll be a good development year for me, too. But my goal right now is to make the Oilers."
Jonathan Huberdeau, a center from Quebec, was taken third by the Panthers, who were also in the same slot for the second year in a row. Huberdeau was the MVP of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs after getting three goals and three assists in four games for the Saint John's Sea Dogs.
The New York Islanders chose center Ryan Strome of the OHL's Niagara IceDogs at No. 6. Strome was third in the league with 106 points in 65 games. Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo, a native of Minnesota, introduced Strome. The Islanders, too, were picking fifth for the second straight year.
Then came the big announcement by Winnipeg: The team will be called the Jets. Formerly the Atlanta Thrashers, the franchise waited until seconds before choosing center Mark Schiefele with the seventh selection to announce the new - er, old - nickname.
The Philadelphia Flyers, using the eighth pick they obtained in one of Thursday's stunning trades, the one that sent leading scorer Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets, took center Sean Couturier of the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL at No. 8.
Defenseman Dougie Hamilton was drafted ninth by the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. The son of an Olympic rower (dad) and basketball player (mom), Hamilton had 58 points in 67 games last season for Niagara in the OHL.