Oilers select Yakupov first overall in NHL Draft Staff

6/23/2012 3:21:52 AM

The Edmonton Oilers made Nail Yakupov the first player off the board at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft from the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

Picking first overall for the third straight year, the Oilers added the Russian-born winger to a youth-filled roster that already includes former top picks Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

"He's a very exciting player to watch," Nugent-Hopkins said of Yakupov. "And he's got some great skill obviously and he's a hard worker. It's going to be great to get the chance to play with him.

Yakupov, who had 31 goals and 69 points in 42 games last season for the Sarnia Sting, was the consensus top choice heading into the draft.

"I have lots of time for work in the summer and work with Edmonton, (to) try to make the team," said Yakupov. "I think I'm ready for the NHL."

The 5'10, 189-pound is the third Russian to hear his name called first in the NHL Draft, joining Ilya Kovalchuk (2001) and Alex Ovechkin (2004).

The Columbus Blue Jackets, who finished with the league's worst record, selected defenceman Ryan Murray with the second pick overall.

"I was pretty nervous before the draft. It seemed like I was in the building for about an hour but it felt like a day," said Murray

Last season with the Everett Silvertips, Murray scored nine goals and 31 points in 46 games and was widely regarded as the top defenceman in this year's draft class.

The Montreal Canadiens selected centre Alex Galchenyuk with the third pick. The 6'1, 198-pound playmaking centre was the second member of the Sarnia Sting selected in the top three, despite missing most of the 2011-2012 season with an ACL injury.

Prior to being sidelined, Galchenyuk finished second in OHL scoring in 2010-2011 behind his teammate Yakupov.

"I knew what kind of skill I have, what kind of player I am," said Galchenyuk. "I'm just going to keep working hard. I played a couple of games at the end of the year and showed what I am capable of doing, I went to the combine and showed them my knee is no concern and there are going to be no issues."

"French lessons start in a couple of days," added Galchenyuk.

The Canadiens were followed by the New York Islanders who made defenceman Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings the fourth choice. The son of former NHLer Paul Reinhart played 58 games for the Oil Kings in 2011-2012, posting 12 goals and 36 points and was a plus-23.

The Toronto Maple Leafs added defenceman Morgan Rielly to their blue line with the fifth pick overall. Reilly appeared in only 18 regular season games for the Moose Jaw Warriors due to an ACL injury, but in those 18 games Reilly had three goals and 18 points and was a plus-6.

"This is a young man that thinks the game well, sees the ice well and makes the right play. If he has multiple options he makes the best one," said Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke. "We are real excited to have him here."

Burke has a history of making bold moves on draft day, however, he downplayed that possibility prior to the draft.

"We tried a number of move-up scenarios, but we didn't like the prices," Burke remarked just prior to the start of the draft.

Defenceman Hampus Lindholm was the sixth player chosen, becoming a member of the Anaheim Ducks. The seventh selection belonged to the Minnesota Wild and they continued the run on defencemen taking Matt Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels.

The Carolina Hurricanes stole some of the headlines early in the draft when they acquired centre Jordan Staal from the Pittsburgh Penguins. The hosting Penguins received centre Brandon Sutter, defenceman Brian Dumoulin and the eighth overall pick, which they used on defenceman Derrick Pouliot of the Portland Winterhawks.

The Winnipeg Jets were the next Canadian team on the board at number nine, where they took defenceman Jacob Trouba who just completed his second year in the U.S. National Team Development Program.

"Being in the NHL is a dream come true." said Trouba. "I'm not there yet, this is only a step, but it's a pretty big step and I'm glad I'm a Jet. It's a great city and being up there is a pretty cool place, and they've got a great tradition."

Trouba is scheduled to attend Michigan University next year.

The Tampa Bay Lightning chose defenceman Slater Koekkoek from the Peterborough Petes at 10 and the Washington Capitals picked Filip Forsberg at 11. The Swedish winger was expected to be a top five pick, but ultimately fell out of the top 10.

The Buffalo Sabres were looking for size up front and found it with the 12th pick, selecting 6'3, 200-pound centre Mikhail Grigorenko.

Radek Faksa is the newest prospect in the Dallas Stars organization, after the Stars made the Kitchener Rangers centre the 13th pick. Faksa is the first Czech Republic player to be taken in the first round since 2008.

The Calgary Flames traded the 14th pick to the Sabres for 21st and 42nd selections in this year's draft. The Sabres used their newly acquired pick on centre Zemgus Girgensons, making him the highest Latvian player ever selected in the NHL Draft.

Ottawa 67's defenceman Cody Ceci will not have far to go after he was chosen by the the Ottawa Senators with the 15th overall pick. The offensive defenceman had 17 goals and 60 points last season with the 67's.

"We had him much higher," admitted general manager Bryan Murray. "We kept sitting there waiting and couldn't believe he got past 10.

"He's a type of defenceman we think this game is leaning towards more often now," added Murray. "With him and (Erik) Karlsson going forward, we can score goals off the back end."

"We had him much higher," admitted general manager Bryan Murray. "We kept sitting there waiting and couldn't believe he got past 10.

"He's a type of defenceman we think this game is leaning towards more often now. With him and (Erik) Karlsson going forward, we can score goals off the back end."

The Capitals took the podium for a second time, adding winger Tom Wilson of the Plymouth Whalers at 16. Czech Republic centre Tomas Hertl entered the San Jose Sharks organization when he was taken at 17.

The Chicago Blackhawks ended Finnish winger Teuvo Teravainen's slide by selecting him with the 18th pick.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman wasted no time announcing the selection of goaltender Andrei Vasilevski, the team's second pick in the opening round at 19.

The Philadelphia Flyers stepped on the stage to a chorus of boos from the Pittsburgh fans in attendance, as the Flyers GM Paul Holmgren took centre Scott Laughton of the Oshawa Generals with the 20th pick.

The Flames, who traded down from 14th, went of the board for their pick at 21, taking centre Mark Jankowski. The 17-year-old has plenty of talent, but will require time to mature and develop into an NHL player.

"Especially in the second half of the year for me it really clicked in that I had a shot of going in the first round." stated Jankowski. "It's a dream come true for me right now and I'm just preparing to move forward."

The Penguins took their second defenceman of the first round at 22, bringing Olli Maata on board from the London Knights.

Defenceman Mike Matheson is slated to play for Boston College in the fall, but he will do so as a member of the Florida Panthers after being taken 23rd overall.

The Boston Bruins made Malcolm Subban the second goaltender taken, when they announced him as the 24th pick. Subban now finds himself on the other end of the Bruins/Canadiens rivalry, with his brother P.K. Subban playing for Montreal.

St. Louis chose defenceman Jordan Schmaltz with the 25th pick.

It took until 26th selection for the Vancouver Canucks to make their first choice. The Canucks, whose success has forced them to pick in the later stages of the draft year after year, took centre Brendan Gaunce of the Belleville Bulls.

"To go to a Canadian team is something special," said Gaunce. "Being able to get drafted to the NHL is something special in itself, but being able to go on Friday is pretty cool."

Edmonton Oil Kings defenceman Henrik Samuelsson, son of Ulf Samuelsson, went to the Phoenix Coyotes at 27, while American defenceman Brady Skjei got the nod from the New York Rangers at 28. 

Centre Stefan Matteau, son of Stephane Matteau, was the 29th pick joining the Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils.

The Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, fresh off their improbable title run, finished off the first round by selecting Barrie Colts winger Tanner Pearson.

The Anaheim Ducks made the first trade during the opening round, sending defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky to the New York Islanders for a second-round pick in the 2013 Draft.

The Stars also made a move early on Friday night, trading forward Mike Ribeiro to the Capitals for forward Cody Eakin and a second-round pick (54th overall) in this year's draft.

Get a breakdown of the first round with's Draft Tracker.