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NHL Draft blog replay: Record 12 U.S.-born players picked

Bruce Mason
The Detroit News

A record 12 American-born players have been selected in the first round of the NHL Draft in Buffalo.

See below for the complete list of players and the team-by-team picks.

Wings trade Datsyuk cap hit to Arizona

Credit Wings GM Ken Holland. He made it happen — and it's quite a stellar deal.

The Wings have traded the No. 16 pick in the draft along with Pavel Datsyuk and his $7.5 million cap hit to Arizona.

Most notably, the Wings got in return: A first-round pick, 20th overall (originally the N.Y. Rangers' pick), and a 2016 second-round pick (No. 53 overall).

"We're thrilled to clear up the space," Holland said to NBCSN.

With the 20th overall pick, the Wings took defenseman Dennis Cholowski, an 18-year-old who played with Chilliwack of the British Columbia Hockey League.

Cholowski is a project player, listed at 6-foot-1, 177 pounds. He's headed to St. Cloud State next season.

"He's a great skater," Holland said. "He's going to go to a university for three-to-four years, we'll see how he develops."

The Wings may have the cap room now to make a serious run at Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos, an unrestricted free agent who will likely demand more than $10 million a season.

“Detroit is without doubt going after Steven Stamkos,” TSN hockey analyst Darren Dreger said on NBCSN.

At No. 16 overall, the Wings had a chance to draft defenseman Jakob Chychrun (Sarnia, OHL), who was a projected top-10 pick. He was indeed picked No. 16 by Arizona.

"He was tough for us to pass at No. 7," said Arizona GM John Chayka, who took Clayton Keller at No. 7 overall.

Along with the two draft picks, the Wings also acquired forward Joe Vitale, who played one game last season. Vitale spent a majority of the year on long-term injured reserve with a concussion.

American Clayton Keller celebrates with the Arizona Coyotes after being selected seventh overall pick at the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Flames pass by Howard 

The Calgary Flames were rumored to be interested in Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, but have struck a deal with the St. Louis Blues for goalie Brian Elliott.

The Blues get a 2016 second-round pick (35th overall) and a conditional third rounder in 2018.

Elliott was 23-8-6 last season and was named an NHL all-star.

Howard is owed $5.3 million per year for the next three seasons in Detroit.


No. 1 Toronto: Auston Matthews, center, ZSC Lions (Switzerland)

The Toronto Maple Leafs picked center Auston Matthews No. 1 overall, making him the first American-born player selected as the top pick since Patrick Kane in 2007 (Chicago).

It will be interesting to see how Matthews develops under Leafs’ hard-nosed coach Mike Babcock, who can be tough with his players.

Matthews (6-foot-2, 216 pounds) took an interesting route to the NHL. He missed the 2015 NHL Draft cutoff date by two days. Instead of playing 2015-16 in any of the North America’s major junior hockey leagues, he went overseas to play professionally with the ZSC Lions in Zurich, Switzerland. (Oh, guess who signed Matthews to play in Switzerland? Wings fans will remember him: Marc Crawford, the old fiery coach of the Colorado Avalanche at the height of the rivalry in the late 1990s. )

Matthews’ style of play resembles Anze Kopitar of the L.A Kings.

The Leafs, who have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967, hope that Matthews can carry the franchise. It’s the first time the Leafs have selected No. 1 overall since 1985 (Wendel Clark).

Here’s a slight comparison: Matthews broke Kane’s scoring record for the U.S. national team development program. Matthews had 116 points in 60 games during the 2014-15 season, versus Kane’s 102 points in 2005-06.

Babcock is the Leafs’ sixth coach since the 2004-05 lockout. Since then, the Leafs have missed the playoffs in 10 of 11 seasons — the lone playoff appearance came in the lockout-shortened 2013 season.

No. 2 Winnipeg: Patrik Laine, right wing, Tappara (Finland)

The Winnipeg Jets selected 6-foot-4 sniper Patrik Laine, whose booming shot draws comparisons to Alexander Ovechkin.

Laine was named MVP of Liiga, the top professional league in Finland. It's important to note that Laine was just 17-years-old last season, which is practically unheard of for an MVP in such a skilled European league.

Winnipeg fans hope Laine follows the road of another Finland native: Teemu Selanne, who was chosen 10th overall by the Jets in 1988. Selanne scored 76 goals in his 1992-93 rookie season.

No. 3 Columbus: Pierre-Luc Dubois, left wing, Cape Breton (QMJHL)

The Blue Jackets mildly surprise the hockey world and choose Dubois, who was a force in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Dubois was coveted by Vancouver at No. 5 overall, and even rumored to be headed to the Montreal Canadiens, who want a French-Canadian face for the franchise.

Nevermind now. Dubois will be in Columbus.

Dubois is a combination of skill and tenacity: He had 99 points and 112 penalty minutes in 62 games last season (and was plus-40).

The Jackets passed by Jesse Puljujarvi, a winger from Finland, who was projected to be picked third.

Dubois is comparable to Jamie Benn (6-2, 201) of the Dallas Stars, who's had three straight seasons of 34 goals or more.

No. 4 Edmonton: Jesse Puljujarvi, right wing, Karpat (Finland)

Well, the Oilers get another highly-touted prospect.

This time, it's Jesse Puljujarvi (6-3, 208), a winger from Finland, who was projected to be picked third by many draft boards.

Puljujarvi was the MVP for Finland as it won the gold medal of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championships.

He joins the following first-round picks, who were all No. 1 overall for the Oilers: Taylor Hall (2010), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011), Nail Yakupov (2012) and Connor McDavid (2015).

And there's more first-rounders in Edmonton: Darnell Nurse was chosen No. 7 overall in 2013 and Jordan Eberle was selected No. 22 overall in 2008.

Can the Oilers finally put something together by landing Puljujarvi?

No. 5 Vancouver: Olli Juolevi, defenseman, London (OHL)

Juolevi makes it three Finnish players chosen in the top five.

Juolevi (6-2, 188) draws comparisons to Nashville defenseman Roman Josi for his smooth skating ability. However, some scouts believed Mikhail Sergachev (Windsor, OHL) was the best defenseman in the draft. We'll see if Vancouver made a mistake in the years to come.

Juolevi was a plus-38 with 42 points last season for the London Knights, who won the OHL and Memorial Cup last season.

No. 6 Calgary: Matthew Tkachuk, left wing, London (OHL)

They compare him to his father, Keith Tkachuk, who scored 538 goals in 19 NHL seasons, most notably with St. Louis and Phoenix (formerly Winnipeg).

The knock on Matthew Tkachuk (6-1, 202) is his skating — which appears to be a slow stride. The positive side: His gritty physicality and willingness to go to the net.

Matthew Tkachuk had 40 points for the London Knights in OHL playoffs, en route to the title. He is an American-born player (Arizona), the second in the top six picks.

No. 7 Arizona Coyotes: Clayton Keller, center, USA NTDP (USHL)

The 17-year-old Keller is compared to Patrick Kane.

Keller (5-10, 164) is committed to Boston University and was also drafted by the Windsor Spitfires (OHL) for next season. It will be interested to see where he decides to play in his prime years before going to the NHL.

Last year, Keller had 107 points (70 assists) with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team.

Scouts compare Keller to Joe Sakic. He's the third American-born player (Missouri) in the top-seven picks.

No. 8 Buffalo: Alexander Nylander, right wing, Mississauga (OHL)

Get ready for a Buffalo-Toronto rivalry spike.

Nylander (6-0, 178) had 75 points in 57 games last year in his rookie season for Mississauga, the best among all OHL first-year players. He was OHL Rookie of the Year.

In 2014, his brother, William Nylander, was chosen No. 8 overall by Toronto, which is 98 miles from Buffalo.

No. 9 Montreal: Mikhail Sergachev, defenseman, Windsor (OHL) 

It's arguable that Sergachev has the best shot in the draft. The only one better, perhaps, is Patrik Laine, who went No. 2 overall to Winnipeg.

Sergachev was OHL Defenseman of the Year last season — and he was only a rookie.

No. 10 Colorado:Tyson Jost, center,Penticton (BCHL)

Jost, who is 18, was named the RBC Canadian Junior Hockey League National Player of the Year. He had 104 points in 48 games in the British Columbia Hockey League.

“He does everything you can ask for from a hockey player,” Colorado GM Joe Sakic said on NBCSN’s draft coverage.

Jost is committed to NCAA champion North Dakota next season.

No. 11 Ottawa (from New Jersey): Logan Brown, center, Windsor (OHL)

The Senators must have really wanted Brown: They traded their No. 12 overall pick and their third rounder (80th overall) up one slot to New Jersey.

Brown is 6-foot-6, 220 pounds — a force as he drives to the net. He had 74 points in 59 games last season for Windsor.

Brown compares his style of game to Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks.

“I don’t play the stereotypical 6-foot-6 grinder game,” Brown said on NBCSN’s draft coverage. “I’m a playmaking two-way center.”     

No. 12 New Jersey: Michael McLeod, center, Mississauga (OHL)

McLeod draws comparisons to Ryan Kesler of the Anaheim Ducks.

McLeod, who wears No. 9 in honor of Wings legend Gordie Howe, is a fast skater who had 61 points last season.

No. 13 Carolina: Jake Bean, defenseman, Calgary (WHL)

Bean is 6-foot, 173 pounds and had 24 goals in 68 games last year.

No. 14 Boston: Charles McAvoy, defenseman, Boston University (H-EAST)

McAvoy, who is 6-foot, 199 pounds, will not have to travel far and will stay in town.

McAvoy is a top-flight skater who Bob McKenzie of TSN compares to Montreal's P.K. Subban.

McAvoy had 25 points last year in 37 games for Boston University.

No. 15 Minnesota: Luke Kunin, center, University of Wisconsin

He's 6-foot, 193 pounds who had 19 goals in 34 games last year.

No. 16 Arizona (from Detroit): Jakob Chychrun (Sarnia, OHL)

The Wings traded Pavel Datsyuk's $7.5 million cap hit.

The Wings in return also moved down four slots to No. 20, and acquired the Coyotes No. 53 overall pick in the second round.

Chychrun is a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder was plus-23 in 62 games last year. He entered the 2015-16 season as the top-rated defenseman in the draft, according to Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated.

No 17 Nashville Predators: Dante Fabbro, D, Penticton (BCHL)

The 6-foot, 192-pounder had 67 points last year and was named top defenseman in the British Columbia Hockey League.

No. 18 Winnipeg (from Philadelphia): Logan Stanley, defenseman, Windsor (OHL)

Winnipeg traded its No. 22 and No. 36 picks to Philadelphia for No. 18 and No. 79 overall.

Stanley is 6-foot-7, 225 pounds. He had 103 penalty minutes in 64 games.

No. 19 N.Y. Islanders: Kieffer Bellows, left wing, USA U-18 (USHL)

He's the son of Brian Bellows, who scored 485 goals in 1,185 NHL games (includes 10 seasons with the Minnesota North Stars).

Kieffer Bellows is 6-foot, 197 pounds. He's expected to go to Boston University next year.

Last season, Kieffer Bellows had 50 goals and 101 penalty minutes in 62 games with the U.S. National Development Team.

No. 20 Detroit: Dennis Cholowski, defenseman, Chilliwack (BCHL)

The 18-year-old had 40 points in 50 games last year. He's known for his offensive instincts, although the British Columbia Hockey League is a tier-II league, below the major junior hockey leagues.

No. 21 Carolina:Julien Gauthier, right wing, Val-d'Or (QMJHL)

Gauthier is 6-foot-3, 231 pounds. He can score tough goals in front of the crease.

Gauthier had 57 points in 54 games last year.

No. 22 Philadelphia: German Rubtsov, center, Team Russia (U-18)

Rubtsov (6-1, 178) had 26 points in 28 games last season.

“Exceptional hockey sense,” TSN’s Bob McKenzie said on NBCSN. “When the game is in the balance, he’s right in the thick of things.”

No. 23 Florida: Henrik Borgstrom, center, HIFK U20 (Finland Jr.)

He had 55 points in 40 games last season.

Borgstrom (6-3, 176) is heading to the University of Denver next season.

No. 24 Anaheim: Max Jones, left wing, London (OHL)

Jones (6-2, 206) was a plus-30 with 28 goals and 106 penalty minutes last year in 63 games.

No. 25 Dallas: Riley Tufte, left wing, Blaine High School (Minnesota)

Tufte, who is 6-foot-5 and 211 pounds, was named Minnesota's Mr. Hockey as the best high school hockey player in the state. It was an easy pick: He notched 78 points in 25 games.

Tufte is the 10th American drafted in the first round.

Next season, he's attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

No. 26 St. Louis:Tage Thompson, C, Connecticut (H-EAST)

Thompson had 32 points in 36 games as a freshman for UConn.

Thompson (6-5, 195) had 13 power play goals that led the NCAA.

No. 27 Tampa Bay:Brett Howden, center, Moose Jaw (WHL)

Howden (6-2, 193) had 64 points in 68 games last season.

"We think he can play both ends of the rink," Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said to NBCSN.

No. 28 Washington: Lucas Johansen, defenseman, Kelowna (WHL)

He's the brother of Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen.

Lucas Johansen (6-1, 176) descends from quite a defensemen factory in the likes of Kelowna, which has also produced NHL blue liners such as Duncan Keith (Chicago), Shea Weber (Nashville), Luke Schenn (L.A. Kings) and Tyler Myers (Winnipeg).

No. 29 Boston: Trent Frederic, center, USA NTDP (USHL)

Frederic (6-2, 203 pounds) had 40 points and 73 penalty minutes in 61 games.

That's a record-breaking 12th American-born player drafted in the first round.

Frederic is committed to the University of Wisconsin for next season.

No. 30 Anaheim: Sam Steel, center, Regina (WHL)

Steel (5-11, 178) had 70 points in 72 games last year.

TSN's Bob McKenzie credited the intelligence of Steel.

Habs make two deals

After the first pick in the draft, Montreal made a splash: It acquired Chicago forward Andrew Shaw in exchange for two 2016 second-round picks (39th overall, 45th overall).

Shaw, who is 24-years-old, is a restricted free agent with a high salary demand. The Hawks have big salaries tied into Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who are both owed $10.5 million per year through 2023. They also have big deals through 2013 to defensemen Brent Seabrook (6.87 million) and Duncan Keith (5.5 million). And Marian Hossa is owed 5.27 million through 2021.

Montreal made another deal moments later: It acquired forward Lars Eller from Washington in exchange for the 2017 and 2018 second round picks.

NHL DRAFT TODAY: Will Wings trade Howard?

Remember all those years the NHL draft was essentially irrelevant (at least in terms of fan interest)? Things have changed.

Today is the most anticipated draft day in recent memory for a Wings fan, perhaps dating as far back as 1983 when Wings GM Jimmy Devellano was thinking of picking Detroit native Pat LaFontaine — and settled for Steve Yzerman.

Rumors are swirling today that the Calgary Flames are interested in Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, according to John Shannon of SportsNet’s Hockey Central.

Howard, who is owed $5.3 million across the next three seasons, is one of several Wings who are tying up the salary cap. Another, of course, is Pavel Datsyuk, whose $7.5 million contract for the 2016-17 season is a priority to move for Wings GM Kenny Holland.

The first round begins at 7 p.m. (NBCSN). Rounds 2-7 are Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m. (NHL Network).

The Wings have six picks in the draft: Round 1, 16th overall; round 2, 46th overall; round 4, 107th overall; round 5, 137th overall; round 6, 167th overall; round 7, 197th overall.

More pre-draft trade rumors: Will Montreal deal P.K. Subban?

The hottest trade rumor in recent days involves Montreal star defenseman P.K. Subban. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is taking calls, but says he’s not shopping Subban.

According to Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, Subban is expendable because of his “tenuous” relationship with management, and his no-trade clause kicks in on July 1. Subban is entering the third year of an eight-year deal worth $72 million, says Campbell, and is slotted to make $10 million or more the next four years. The time to move him, if ever, appears to be now.

The Canadiens supposedly want a French-Canadian franchise player — and Pierre-Luc Dubois of Cape Breton (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) is hovering around the projected top-five.

Dubois is a combination of skill and tenacity: He had 99 points and 112 penalty minutes in 62 games last season (and was plus-40).

Will Oilers deal No. 4 pick? 

The most likely trade to be made: The Edmonton Oilers are seeking to deal their No. 4 pick for a top-flight defenseman.

St. Louis defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is rumored to be dealt to the Oilers, who are offering Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, according to Lou Korac, the Blues writer for  The Blues, however, are seeking Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle.

More on Flames-Howard rumors

The Flames reportedly want to make a deal for Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop or St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott.

Wings goalie Jimmy Howard appears to be the second plan of attack.

Bishop is entering the final year of his contract (owed $5.95 million) and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2017-18.

Bishop is seeking a new deal of $49 million for seven years, according to John Shannon of SportsNet.


Round 1 (today)

1. Toronto

2. Winnipeg

3. Columbus

4. Edmonton

5. Vancouver

6. Calgary

7. Arizona

8. Buffalo

9. Montreal

10. Colorado

11. New Jersey

12. Ottawa

13. Carolina

14. Boston

15. Minnesota

16. Detroit

17. Nashville

18. Philadelphia

19. NY Islanders

20. Arizona (from N.Y. Rangers)

21. Carolina (from L.A. Kings)

22. Winnipeg (from Chicago)

23. Florida

24. Anaheim

25. Dallas

26. Washington

27. Tampa Bay

28. St. Louis

29. Boston (from San Jose Sharks)

30. Anaheim (from Pittsburgh via Toronto)

Follow the first round of the draft here Friday.