June 24, 2011
ST. PAUL -- The first five picks in the first round of the 2011 NHL Draft went as many prognosticators had believed with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins going No. 1 overall to the Edmonton Oilers.
Winger Gabriel Landeskog went to Colorado; center Jonathan Huberdeau was chosen by Florida; defenseman Adam Larsson was taken by New Jersey (which made a certain Puck Daddy editor very happy); and to round out the top five picks, and the New York Islanders took pivot Ryan Strome.
The Panthers badly wanted to move up to the No. 1 spot to grab Nugent-Hopkins, but despite a rumored offer of Stephen Weiss(notes) and the No. 3 pick, Oilers GM Steve Tambellini wasn't biting. Whether or not Nugent-Hopkins makes the Oilers roster in October or spends another year playing for the Red Deer Rebels now becomes the question.
"From what I've heard, Steve's in no rush to get me playing," Nugent-Hopkins said. "But if I do go back to junior, I won't be disappointed at all.
"It will be a great opportunity for us, Red Deer, as a team to hopefully to get to the Memorial Cup. Personally it will be a good year of development for me too, but my goal now is to make the Oilers right now."
After the Avalanche dealt away defenseman John-Michael Liles(notes) earlier on Friday, there was thought that it could be a sign they were going to stray from selecting Landeskog and instead grab the defenseman Larsson. Colorado GM Greg Sherman will have plenty of money to spend if on July 1 to bolster the Avs' blueline.
For the Devils, it had been 20 years since they last chose as high as they did on Friday when they announced Larsson at No. 4. Larsson was pegged for the Devils for a while, but the questions surrounding who the Avalanche and Panthers were to choose was cause for some concern about whether or not he'd be at No. 4.
There weren't any trades announced by Commissioner Gary Bettman through the first 14 selections with the biggest noise coming from Winnipeg Jets fans in the crowd after True North Sports and Entertainment chairman Mark Chipman casually slipped in "Jets" before introducing GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to make their selection.
The first half of the first round ended with a touching moment as Aaron Boogaard(notes), brother of Derek, was introduced to a warm ovation before announcing the New York Rangers' first pick J.T. Miller.
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