|Steven Stamkos, being greeted by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, was selected with the No. 1 pick in the NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night.
The Tampa Bay Lightning confirmed the NHL's worst-kept secret Friday when they took Sarnia Sting center Steve Stamkos with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 Entry Draft on a night that saw teams waste little time wheeling and dealing.
The Lightning won the NHL Draft Lottery on April 7 and made no attempt to hide their interest in Stamkos, rated as the No. 1 North American skater by the NHL Central Scouting after he scored 58 goals and 105 points in 61 games for the Ontario Hockey League's Sting this season. They made no secret of their intent to take Stamkos and wasted little time promoting his impending arrival, a campaign that included a "seenstamkos.com" Web site.
"It was a little awareness campaign that the marketing people put together," Lightning GM Jay Feaster said. "I think it worked very well."
The pick was announced by Oren Koules, one of the new owners of the Lightning. The sale of the team was approved this week by the Board of Governors.
Though Stamkos finished second in the OHL in scoring and is expected to be a big offensive producer in the NHL after amassing 100 goals and 197 points in two seasons, the 6-foot-1, 176-pound center has worked hard to become a well-rounded player.
The Lightning finished last in the overall standings in 2007-08 – just four years after winning the Stanley Cup – but Stamkos won't be required to come to step in and become an immediate savior. He's likely to play and learn behind All-Star Vincent Lecavalier and, perhaps, alongside former Hart Trophy winner Martin St. Louis.
"We think he's going to play for us," Feaster said of the Lightning's plans for Stamkos in 2008-09. "We think he can step in. We want him to learn from Lecavalier and St. Louis."
The Los Angeles Kings, with a plethora of young forwards but plenty of holes on the blue line, used the No. 2 pick to bolster their blue line, taking Drew Doughty, a defenseman from the OHL's Guelph Storm. Doughty, 6- 1, 215 pounds, had 13 goals and 50 points in 58 games this season.
Like Stamkos, Doughty thinks he can play in the NHL next season. "I want to make an impact with the Kings next year," he said.
Then the trade market opened for business. The first major deal was announced prior to Atlanta's pick, the third overall.
The Florida Panthers traded their captain, center Olli Jokinen, to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for defensemen Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton and the No. 49 pick in the Draft, a choice the Coyotes had previously acquired from Ottawa.
Also, the Calgary Flames obtained center Michael Cammalleri and the No. 48 pick in this year's Draft from the Kings in exchange for Calgary's first-rounder, No. 17, and a second-round choice in 2009. The Kings then wheeled that pick, along with the No. 28 choice in the first round, to Anaheim for the No. 12 pick, a selection the Ducks obtained from Edmonton when the Oilers signed Dustin Penner last summer.
The Thrashers, also looking for help on defense, selected Zach Bogosian from the Peterborough Petes of the OHL. Bogosian, the first American-born player selected this year, had 11 goals and 61 points this season, nearly doubling his 33-point output in 2006-07.
That pick preceded another trade. Calgary sent center Alex Tanguay and its fifth-round choice this year to Montreal for the Canadiens' first-rounder, No. 25, and a second-round choice next year.
The St. Louis Blues then continued the run on defensemen by selecting Alex Pietrangelo of the OHL’s Niagara Ice Dogs with the No. 4 pick. Pietrangelo, a 6-foot-4 right-handed shooter and a cousin of former NHL goaltender Frank Pietrangelo, scored 13 goals and had 53 points with Niagara this season.
The New York Islanders, scheduled to pick No. 5, traded that pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs for three picks. The Isles received the Leafs' first-rounder this year, No. 7, and their choice of the No. 60 pick this year and a third-round choice in 2009 or the No. 68 choice this year and Toronto's second-round choice next year.
The Leafs then made it four defensemen in a row by taking Luke Schenn of the Western Hockey League's Kelowna Rockets. Schenn, a shutdown defenseman at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, had seven goals and 28 points, as well as 100 penalty minutes, for the Rockets this season.
Columbus made a deal before making the No. 6 overall pick. The Blue Jackets traded the 19th pick in the first round and their third-round pick, 67th overall, to Philadelphia for center R.J. Umberger and the Flyers' fourth-round choice, No. 118 overall. Umberger, an Ohio native, will be a free agent on July 1 after scoring a career-high 50 points during the regular season and leading the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 10 goals.
The Blue Jackets then took the first European-born player, selecting Nikita Filatov, a speedy left wing from Russia. Filatov, who has said he wants to play in North America next season and is comfortable speaking English, had 32 goals, 66 points and 90 penalty minutes last season and was rated as the top Draft-eligible skater in Europe.
The Islanders made another trade, dealing the seventh overall pick to Nashville for Nashville's first two choices, Nos. 9 and 40 overall. The Predators selected Colin Wilson, a center from Boston University and the son of former NHL player Carey Wilson. Colin Wilson is bigger than his dad at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds and was the Hockey East rookie of the year with 12 goals and 35 points in 37 games.
|Drew Doughty -- a lifelong Kings fan -- saw his dream come true as Los Angeles selected the defenseman with the second-overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. NHL.com chats with Drew Doughty |
One of the night's biggest cheers came when Wayne Gretzky took the stage to make the eighth pick for the Phoenix Coyotes. Gretzky and the Coyotes selected Mikkel Boedker, a left wing from Kitchener of the OHL. Boedker, a native of Demark, had 29 goals and 73 points in 69 games for the Rangers, who made it to the championship game of the Memorial Cup before losing to Seattle.
The Islanders finally made a pick when they selected Josh Bailey, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound center from the Winsdor Spitfires of the OHL. Bailey was 10th in the league and tops on his team in scoring with 96 points, including 27 goals. He's improved by 35 points per season - after getting 26 points with Owen Sound in 2005-06, he improved to 61 in 2006-07 while splitting the season between Owen Sound and Windsor.
The Vancouver Canucks, picking 10th, paid tribute to defenseman Luc Bourdon, who died in a motorcycle accident earlier this month, before selecting center Cody Hodgson, a center from the OHL's Brampton Battalion. Hodgson, a 6-footer who weighs 185 pounds, had 40 goals and 85 points in 68 games.
The Chicago Blackhawks took center Kyle Beach from the Everett Silvertips of the WHL with the 11th selection. The 6-foot-3, 203-pound center scored 27 goals and 60 points in 60 games this past season along with 222 penalty minutes.
After moving up a pick to No. 12, the Buffalo Sabres selected 6-foot-7, 204-pound defenseman Tyler Myers, who put up six goals and 19 points in 65 games for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets.
With their second choice in the first round, the Kings continued to bolster their defense, tabbing Regina Pats blueliner Colten Teubert. The 6-foot-4, 185-pounder registered seven goals and 23 points in 66 games this season and displayed his toughness with 135 penalty minutes.
Carolina, seeking to get back to the postseason for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2006, took a player used to being a Hurricane with the 14th pick. Over the past three seasons, 5-foot-10, 175-pound Zach Boychuk has scored 82 goals and recorded 214 points for the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes.
The fans in attendance roared their approval at the announcement the Ottawa Senators had traded up to get the 15th pick, acquiring it from Nashville. With captain Daniel Alfredsson at the podium, the team selected defenseman Erik Karlsson out of the Swedish Junior League. Karlsson, who stands 5-foot-11, scored 37 points in 38 games for Frolunda this past season. He also added seven assists in six games at the Under-18 IIHF World Championships, leading his team with a plus-8 and being named the tournament’s top defenseman.
The Boston Bruins turned to the Alberta Junior Hockey League in drafting center Joe Colborne with the 16th pick. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound Colborne scored 33 goals in 55 games for the Camrose Kodiaks this past season and finished with 90 points. He added 16 points in leading the Kodiaks to the AJHL championship and was named playoff MVP.
Selecting with the 17th pick, obtained from Calgary, the Anaheim Ducks took Minnesota hockey standout Jake Gardiner. He led all Minnetonka players in scoring and his 48 points were third among Minnesota high school defenseman. At 6-foot-1, 173 pounds, Gardiner has committed to the University of Wisconsin.
After trading down, the Predators were the first team in this year's Entry Draft to take a goaltender, Chet Pickard of Tri-City of the WHL. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Pickard led the league with 46 wins and backstopped his team to Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.
Luca Sbisa became the second member of Lethbridge to be selected in six picks during the first round when the Flyers called his name with the 19th pick. Sbisa, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound defenseman, recorded six goals and 33 points in 62 games this season.
With the New York Rangers' selection of blueliner Michael Del Zotto, 10 of the first 20 picks were defenseman. Del Zotto is an offensive standout who has spent the past two seasons putting up points for the Oshawa Generals of the OHL, netting 26 goals and 120 points in 128 games.
Washington made another deal in order to move up from the 23rd to the 21st selection. The Capitals dealt a third-rounder to New Jersey in order to move up two picks and select Sweden's Anton Gustafsson, the son of former Washington star Bengt Gustafsson. Anton, a 6-foot-2, 194-pound center, spent most of last season with Frolunda's junior team, scoring 15 goals and 32 points in 33 games.
Edmonton, using the 22nd pick it obtained from Anaheim in 2006, tabbed Jordan Eberle, a 5-10, 174-pound center who scored 42 goals and 75 points for Regina of the WHL. He helped Canada win the gold medal at the World Under-18 Championships, scoring 10 points.
The Devils traded down again, sending the 23rd pick to Minnesota for the 24th pick and a third-rounder in 2009. Minnesota then continued the run on defensemen by taking Tyler Cuma from Ottawa of the OHL. Cuma had four goals and 32 points in 59 games, with 69 penalty minutes.
New Jersey used the 24th pick to nab Swedish forward Mattias Tedenby, who had three goals and three assists in 23 games with HV 71 of Sweden's Elite League. His six points were third among junior players in the SEL.
Calgary used the pick it got from Montreal for Tanguay to select Windsor center Greg Nemisz, a 6-foot-3, 197-pounder who likes to go to the net. He had 34 goals and 67 points for the Spitfires.
Buffalo, picking 26th with a choice obtained from San Jose in the deal that sent Brian Campbell to the Sharks at the trade deadline, chose Tyler Ennis, who scored 43 goals and 91 points for Medicine Hat of the WHL. At 5-9 and 146 pounds, Ennis is one of the smallest players in recent memory to be chosen in the first round.
Washington got a second first-rounder by dealing defenseman Steve Eminger and the 84th pick to Philadelphia and chose USHL defenseman John Carlsson. The Natick, Mass., native had 12 goals and 43 points in 59 games with Indiana.
Phoenix also went for a second first-rounder, dealing a pair of second-round picks to Anaheim to be able to select Viktor Tikhonov, the grandson of the legendary Soviet coach. This Tikhonov played for Cherepovets in 2007-08, getting seven goals and 12 points in 43 games. Tikhonov, who's 20, had gone unchosen in two earlier Entry Drafts.
Atlanta used the No. 29 pick, received from Pittsburgh in the Marian Hossa deal, to land the small-but-speedy Dalton Leveille, a 29-goal scorer with St. Catherines of the OHL who's headed for Michigan State. He's 5-11 but just 163 pounds, and the Thrashers will be patient and allow Leveille to mature and fill out physically at college.
The Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings completed the wild first round by selecting Guelph goaltender Thomas McCollum, an American who had a 2.50 goals-against average, four shutouts and a .914 save percentage for the Storm. His selection was announced by Wings legend Steve Yzerman, a native of the Ottawa area who received a long ovation from the Scotiabank Place crowd.
The teams then took a breather before the last six rounds of the Draft were held Saturday. In all, just 12 of the 30 picks in the opening round were made by the team that originally owned them.