Swedes keep going on 2nd day of NHL draft

June 25, 2011 - 4:00 PM
NHL Draft Hockey

NHL top three draft choices Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, center, Gabriel Landeskog, right, and Jonathan Huberdeau pose after being drafted in the first round of the National Hockey League entry draft, Friday June, 24, 2011, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Andy King)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Another NHL draft weekend has wrapped up, and the winners won't be clear for years.

But in the immediate assessment of the latest selections from around the league, it's obvious that talent is flowing strong from Sweden.

Twenty-eight Swedes were selected in the seven-round event, trailing only mighty Canada (79) and the United States (64). There were a record four Swedish players taken in the top 10.

There were also a record-tying six Swedes taken in the first round, matching the totals from 1993 and 2009.

The Edmonton Oilers also continued their reconstruction project. General manager Steve Tambellini says his team is "definitely going in the right direction" after making three of the first 31 picks and six of the first 92.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The NHL draft has resumed, and the Western Hockey League is supplying more top talent.

The Edmonton Oilers made the first pick Saturday, taking defenseman David Musil to start the second round. The St. Louis Blues, without a first-round selection Friday, grabbed right wing Ty Rattie with the 32nd pick.

Musil and Rattie played in the WHL last season. The Oilers opened the draft Friday by taking center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the first WHL player to go first overall since 1996.

The host Minnesota Wild drew a cheer from the crowd by dealing their third- and fourth-round picks to the Vancouver Canucks and moving into the second round to take left wing Mario Lucia at No. 60. Lucia played at Wayzata High School in the Twin Cities area, and his father Don is head coach at the University of Minnesota.

Minnesota is home to a multitude of Scandinavian descendants, particularly Sweden. So this was the perfect place for Swedes to dominate the top of 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 matched 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 were 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, were scheduled for 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 space 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 with the Sharks 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."

The trades continued Saturday.

The Calgary Flames dealt defenseman Robyn Regehr to the Buffalo Sabres to clear salary-cap space to sign Alex Tanguay to a long-term contract. The Flames sent Regehr, right wing Ales Kotalik and their second-round draft pick in 2012 to the Sabres for defenseman Chris Butler and center Paul Byron.

Also, Columbus traded forward Nikita Filatov to the Senators for a third-round pick.