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Draft Day Blog: Round 1

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
10:56 PM: We couldn't end the first round without yet another trade. The Blackhawks, who had two first rounders, just sent the No. 30 pick to the New York Islanders in exchange for a pair of second-rounders - 35th an 58th overall. New York used the pick to select Minnesota high school center Brock Nelson, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound behemmoth. Nelson's uncle, Dave, was a member of the 1980 U.S. Miracle on Ice squad.

10:49 PM:
We are almost through the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and the Anaheim Ducks - who are Public Enemy No. 1 at STAPLES Center - just brought down the house as they chose Medicine Hat right winger Emerson Etem with the No. 29 pick acquired last summer from the Philadelphia Flyers in the Chris Pronger trade. Etem, ranked No. 8 overall by Central Scouting, is a local Long Beach, California native, which is what elicited all the cheers. Etem posted 37 goals and 65 points in 72 games with Medicine Hat this past season.

10:43 PM:
San Jose chose the first Tier-II American when they picked forward Charlie Coyle from South Shore of the Eastern Junior Hockey League. Coyle, who plans to attend Boston University, is the cousin of former American star Tony Amonte. Coyle scored 21 goals and added 42 assists in 42 games with South Shore this past season.

10:41 PM:
Niagara netminder Mark Visentin became the second goaltender selected here in the first round as the Phoenix Coyotes took him at 27th overall. Visentin played 55 games the past season for Niagara, posting a 2.99 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.

10:36 PM:
With the 26th pick of the draft the Washington Capitals grabbed the third European of the first round when they chose Russian center Evgeny Kuznetsov. Not much of a surprise there considering the Capitals have had a bit of success the past six or seven years taking Russians - see Ovechkin, Alex and Semin, Alexander. Kuznetsov suited up for Chelyabinsk of the KHL this past season. He is expected to remain there through at least the upcoming season as well.

10:30 PM:
Now that things have settled a bit here following the Penguins selection of Beau Bennett, we can get you caught up a bit with some of the picks that followed Bennett. Detroit followed up at No. 21 by taking University of Notre Dame center Riley Sheahan, the first college player taken this year. Montreal traded up with Phoenix to select big blueliner Jarred Tinordi, the son of long-time NHL defenseman Mark, at No. 22. Tinordi spent this past season with the United States National Development Team. Buffalo took defenseman Mark Pysyk from Edmonton of the WHL with pick No. 23.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks used the pick they acquired in the Dustin Byfuglien/Brent Sopel/Ben Eager trade to draft high school center Kevin Hayes at No. 24. Florida used the 25th-overall pick they received in the Keith Ballard trade earlier this evening to tab Moose Jaw center Quinton Howden.

10:10 PM:
For those of you wanting to find out more about Penguins first round pick Beau Bennett, click here to check out his draft bio.

10:08 PM:
We'll catch up on all the first-round picks soon, but before we do that here are some pictures of Penguins first-round draft pick Beau Bennett following his selection by the Penguins a short time ago:


9:41 PM:
Beau Knows! The Penguins selected right winger Beau Bennett, a 6-foot-1, 173-pounder from Penticton of the British Columbia Hockey League. Bennett, the highest-drafted Californian born player in NHL history scored 41 goals and 79 assists in 56 games this past season. Bennett lead the BCHL in points this past season.

9:39 PM:

9:36 PM:
Florida chose Blaine High School center Nick Bjugstad at 19th overall. Bjugstad's father Scott had a cup of coffee with the Penguins and he is the reigning Mr. Hockey in the state of Minnesota.

9:30 PM:
Nobody knows for sure, but I'm willing to bet that the Nashville Predators just hit a home run with their most recent pick because that just seems to be what they do at this particular time of year. David Poile and Co. are among the best drafters in the NHL. They chose 6-foot-3 forward Austin Watson from the Peterborough Petes of the OHL - the alma mater of Jordan Staal. Watson scored 20 goals and 54 points in 52 games this season.

9:24 PM:
Colorado goes off the board a bit, at least according to Central Scouting, as they take Owen Sound center Joey Hishon, who was ranked No. 55, with the 17th overall pick. I don't think anybody is going to argue with the Avalanche though after their first two picks last year, Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly, both spent the entire year in the NHL in '09-10. Hishon, who stands 5-foot-10, had an injury-marred season this year when he posted 16 goals and 40 points in 36 games. He was the leading scorer for Team Canada at the 2009 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

9:17 PM:
We have a second-consecutive trade as the Ottawa Senators deal pick No. 16 to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Swedish defenseman David Rundblad, whom the Blue took 17th overall last year. Rundblad will join Erik Karlsson, who was impressive against the Penguins in Round 1 of the postseason, as young Swedish rearguards in the Ottawa system.

WIth the pick the Blues acquired they went with Russian right winger Vladimir Tarasenko, who scored 13 goals and 24 points in 42 games with Novosibirsk of the KHL. Tarasenko was ranked second among European skaters by Central Scouting. He is the second player drafted thus far from a European league.

9:10 PM:
Los Angeles has an abundance of defense prospects already, including one of my favorites - Drew Doughty - but they add another to the stable by taking United States National Development Team blueliner Derek Forbort with the pick they just acquired from Florida. Forbort is a big man who stands 6-foot-5, 198 pounds. The Duluth, Minnesota native had a plus-9 rating in seven games while helping the U.S. take home the gold medal at the World Under-18 championship.

9:07 PM:
We have a trade of draft picks. The Florida Panthers have traded the 15th overall pick to the hosting Los Angeles Kings in exchange for the 19th and 59th overall picks. Naturally, the home crowd when crazy when commissioner Gary Bettman announced the deal.

U.S. NTDP goaltender Jack Campbell faces the media following his selection.

9:00 PM:
The picks are coming fast and furious now - John Davidson and the St. Louis Blues step up and select Tri-City Americans center Jaden Schwartz at No. 14. In case you don't know Schwartz's story, his older sister Mandi is battling leukemia and is in desparate need of a transplant. Click here to visit Mandi's site. Today is also Schwartz's birthday, and the crowd at STAPLES Center made sure to sing him "happy birthday."

8:54 PM:
Phoenix makes the first of their two first-round picks - this one a result of the 2009 Olli Jokinen deal - as they take the first QMJHL player of this year's selection process, Moncton blueliner Brandon Gormley. A 6-foot-2 two-way defender, Gormley was rated sixth by Central Scouting. Gormley put up nine goals and 34 assists this season in 58 games.

8:46 PM:
Windson Spitfires defenseman Cam Fowler had to wait a bit longer than expected to hear his name called, but that wait is now over after the Anaheim Ducks picked him 12th overall. Fowler, ranked fifth by Central Scouting, is an offensive-minded blueliner who put up 55 points (8G-47A) in 55 games with the Spitfires. The Northville, Michigan native is a product of the U.S. National Development Team.

8:38 PM:
The Dallas Stars are reportedly letting long-time starting goaltender Marty Turco walk as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, so they made sure to draft his eventual successor in United States National Development Team goaltneder Jack Campbell. The Port Huron, Michigan native is a proven winner who led the United States to back-to-back World Under-18 championships and a gold medal victory at the 2010 World Junior Championship. Campbell was the No. 2 rated North American goaltender.

8:32 PM:
The New York Rangers elected to go the tough-guy route. They chose Moose Jaw defenseman Dylan McIlrath with the 10th pick. McIlrath, a Winnipeg native, was ranked No. 17 among North American skaters by Central Scouting. He stands 6-foot-4, 212 pounds and finished the past season with 19 fighting majors. I smell a couple power plays in the future when the Penguins go head-to-head with McIlrath.


8:23 PM:
I like Chuck Fletcher's style - get to the podium and make his selection. The former Penguins assistant general manager and current Minnesota Wild GM took the first player from a European league - Finnish center Mikael Granlund. The 5-foot-10 Granlund was the No. 1 ranked European skater by Central Scouting. He has been compared to former Montreal center Saku Koivu - which is ironic because when he comes to Minnesota in two years he will more than likely play with Saku's younger brother, Mikko.

8:21 PM:
A couple days after adding power forward Dustin Byfuglien from the Chicago Blackhawks, the Atlanta Thrashers continued adding to their forward corps with the drafting of Barrie center Alexander Burmistrov at No. 8. Burmistrov, a Russian, spent this season with Barrie after playing for Ak-Bars Kazan of the Kontinental Hockey League in '08-09. Burmistrov scored 22 goals and recorded 65 points in 62 games with Barrie.

8:18 PM:
I guess we shouldn't be surprised that the first seven picks have come from the Canadian Hockey League. If you didn't get a chance to read my piece earlier today, we did research on the past 10 drafts, and we broke down the change in philosophy regarding drafting North Americans versus Europeans.

8:11 PM:
Former Penguin Ron Francis and the Carolina Hurricanes took right wing Jeff Skinner from the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL with the seventh pick. Skinner, who was ranked No. 34 by Central Scouting, is one of the top goal-scorers available this year. He lit the lamp 50 times during the regular season and added another 20 during the postseason. So far, of the first seven picks, four have come from the OHL while three are WHL picks.

8:08 PM:
Penguins general manager Ray Shero addressed local reporters earlier today at STAPLES Center prior to the start of the draft. Here is a transcript of what Shero had to say:

On imposing a deadline on reaching a deal with Sergei Gonchar:
I told (Gonchar’s agent) J.P. (Barry) that is something comes up and I have to impose a deadline I will let him know, but right now I’m not there yet. Everything has been very cordial.

On both sides knowing where the other stands:
We are crystal clear right now.

On length of contract being a potential sticking point:
I would say ask J.P., but I think we are both very clear on what our positions are. It’s time to make a decision.

On staying pat with the Penguins’ first-round pick:

Right now I would be very surprised if we didn’t pick at (No.) 20-(overall). We could always trade up or down of course, but I don’t see a transaction where we don’t have our first-round pick.

On talking to the agents for other Penguins’ potential unrestricted free agents:
Most likely I will tomorrow when it is slower and you have an opportunity to sit in the stands. That’s what I told some of these agents. Once we got the salary cap number we were good to go and verify things. Over the next couple of days we will meet with guys and let them know where they stand.

On potential deadlines for other players:

July 1st is coming up next week but I would like to let the players know where I stand – if I can move on something or if I can’t move on and I need to take it to July 1st because I need more time.


On how often he will keep talking to agents:

I have been in touch with the agents. I think it’s important in respect to the players because these guys have been with us. I don’t mind if the players themselves get on the phone and call me. If I have something to tell them I will, but if I’m in a waiting pattern I’ll let them know. I think communication is important. I think you have to be respectful and I think they appreciate that.

On a status update on free agents:
I saw Billy Guerin 10 days ago and I talked to him and his agent. I will talk to his agent here. I have talked to Mark Eaton’s agent. I tell all of these guys at the end of the year if they need to talk just pick up the phone and call me. Whether the guys are coming back or not you have to be honest.

On the philosophy of giving out long-term contracts:

I think every team might be different. A number of teams have long-term contracts with guys signed for 10-to-12 years while other teams don’t. We don’t – our longest is Marc-Andre Fleury at seven years. The way I would like to operate is having shorter rather than longer. Keep in mind as we move forward that we could have a new CBA in a few years. We don’t know what the next one will look like.

On young players having their contracts jump in their second contract:
You have your entry-level guys that you have to plan (salary jumps) for. Sometimes people jump pretty high in their second contract. We had Kris Letang who had that happen for us. You have to plan for that and keep flexibility or else you are trying to move bodies. It’s hard to move (bad) contracts.

On talking to Gonchar about potentially waiving his no-trade clause:

A little bit. My position on that is he has a no-trade clause. If for some reason we cannot get a deal, it’s going to be up to him. I’m not going to chase him. He’s earned the no-trade. If Sergei thinks it is something that would benefit him, I would certainly try to accommodate him. It’s his call not mine in the end.

8:00 PM:
New Lightning general manager and Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman took left winger Brett Connolly with his first-ever draft pick. Connolly, who could spend the next 10-plus years flanking Steven Stamkos, who finished the season tied with Sidney Crosby with a league-leading 51 goals, is a 6-foot-2 sniper who was ranked third by Central Scouting. Connolly missed much of the past season due to injury, but he did score 10 goals and nine assists in 16 games with Prince George of the WHL when he was healthy.

7:54 PM:
One of the Penguins' Atlantic Division rivals - the New York Islanders - round out the top-five. Last season the Islanders had the 1st-overall pick, when they picked scoring sensation John Tavares. This year they went with a potential long-term linemate for Tavares in Swiss winger Nino Niederreiter, who become the highest-drafted Swiss hockey player in draft history. Niederreiter, a right winger, spent the past season on a line with Ryan Johansen, who just went to Columbus at pick No. 4. Niederreiter was the star of the World Junior tournament, scoring six goals and four assists in seven games for Team Switzerland. Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang and Co. could potentially be dealing with a Tavares, Niederreiter, Matt Moulson line for the next several seasons.


7:41 PM:
The team with the closest geographical proximity to the Penguins - the Columbus Blue Jackets - stepped up to make the No. 4 pick and they elected to go with center Ryan Johansen from the WHL's Portland Winter Hawks. Johansen was ranked 10th by Central Scouting. Johansen recorded 25 goals and 44 assists in 71 games this year - his first in the WHL.

7:34 PM:
The trade we mentioned earlier between the Panthers and Canucks - Keith Ballard and a prospect to Vancouver in exchange for Steve Bernier, the 25th overall pick and a prospect. Florida just stepped to the podium to make the No. 3 pick and they chose Kingston defenseman Erik Grudbranson, a hulking 6-foot-4, 195-pound right-handed shooter. Grudbranson projects as a top-two defensive defenseman who finished ranked fourth among North American skaters.

7:24 PM:
Boston is up at No. 2 after acquiring Toronto's pick last preseason in the deal which sent high-scoring winger Phil Kessel to Toronto. Despite having a wealth of centers including Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, Boston picks Plymouth center Tyler Seguin, who was the No. 1 ranked North American prospect as rated by Central Scouting. Seguin, who stands 6-foot-1, 172 pounds, finished the season tied with Hall atop the OHL scoring charts with 48 goals, 58 assists and 106 points in 63 games. The VERSUS analysts are speculating that the Bruins might be open to trading one of the three centers I mentioned earlier.

7:16 PM:
With the first pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Steve Tambellini and the Edmonton Oilers elect to go with Taylor Hall, a left winger from the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. Hall was coached this past season by former Penguins defenseman Bob Boughner. Hall entered the draft ranked second overall among North American prospects by Central Scouting. Hall, the reigning two-time Memorial Cup MVP, recorded 35 points (17G-18A) in 19 playoff games with the Spitfires.

7:13 PM:
Gary Bettman is at the podium as we type addressing the crowd. He is doing the obligatory "thank you" and "welcome" messages. We are minutes away from hearing who the Oilers will take and then the fun will begin in earnst.

7:05 PM:
Edmonton holds the No. 1-overall selection this year. They will be choosing from a pair of high-scoring OHL forwards - Plymouth's Tyler Seguin and Windsor's Taylor Hall. Speculation is the Oilers will lean towards Hall but at this point nobody knows for sure.

7:03 PM:
VERSUS has begun its draft coverage live in the United States and right off the bat they are speculating a trade featuring NHL players. Florida reportedly is going to trade veteran defenseman Keith Ballard to the Vancouver Canucks for forward Steve Bernier and the 25th overall pick. We'll follow this one throughout the night and let you know if and when it becomes official.

7:00 PM:
Welcome Penguins fans to the beginning of the 2010-11 campaign as the annual Entry Draft kicks off with Round 1 tonight at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. The Penguins will hold the 20th selection tonight, so it's going to be a little while before we see general manager Ray Shero walk to the podium to make the Penguins' pick. If you're looking for some reading material to hold you over as you wait out the Penguins' pick, make sure to check out the many features at Penguins Draft Central.
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