toronto select american matthews first in nhl entry draft
Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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The Toronto Maple Leafs selected Arizona

Toronto select American Matthews first in NHL entry draft

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Arab Today, arab today Toronto select American Matthews first in NHL entry draft

The Toronto Maple Leafs select teenage phenom Auston Matthews first overall in the NHL draft, making him the first American to go No. 1 since 2007
Los Angeles - Arab Today

The Toronto Maple Leafs selected Arizona teenager Auston Matthews with the No. 1 pick in the National Hockey League draft as a record 12 Americans were chosen in the first round.

Matthews was considered to be the consensus first overall pick heading into the entry draft, and he goes to a team that desperately needs a goal-scorer and a leader as the Leafs are suffering through one of the longest Stanley Cup droughts in the league.

"It is a dream come true. Especially going to the storied franchise like the Toronto Maple Leafs," he on Friday said of the Leafs, who are also one of the original six NHL franchises.

Finnish goal scorer Patrik Laine went second overall to the Winnipeg Jets.

The Columbus Blue Jackets made the first surprise pick of the day by choosing center Pierre-Luc Dubois of Canada with the third pick at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York. The Oilers then wasted no time grabbing Laine's Finnish compatriot Jesse Puljujarvi for the fourth spot.

Defenseman Olli Juolevi was taken by the Vancouver Canucks, giving Finland three picks in the top five.

There were 12 Americans selected and 11 from Canada, making in the first time that the United States has had more picks than their North American neighbor. Matthews is also the seventh American to be taken first overall.

The 18-year-old is the first player from the desert city of Phoenix to be picked number one. He started playing hockey at age 7.

"Hockey is rapidly growing in all southern parts of the country and so to be a part of that is unique," Matthews said.

The last US player to go No. 1 was Buffalo's Patrick Kane in 2007.

Matthews just missed out being eligible for the 2015 entry draft by two days, and scouts said he would have been a top three pick in that draft as well.Matthews scored 79 goals in 45 games as a 14-year-old bantam AAA with the Phoenix Jr Coyotes.

At one time had hoped to play for Druzbha-78 in the Ukraine, but ended up going to Switzerland where he played this past season. Despite his young age, Matthews scored 24 goals and 46 points in 36 games while playing for Zurich in their elite league.

He also led the USA to a bronze at the World Junior Championships and played on the US national team that finished fourth at the men's IIHF World Championships last month in Russia. He posted nine points in 10 games at the Worlds.

Toronto has been in rebuilding mode for much of the last decade. They missed the postseason 10 of the past 11 seasons a finished last with a dismal 29-42-11 record a year ago.

They have not won an NHL championship since the 1966-67 season.

Puljujarvi is known for his playmaking and two-way game. He was named MVP of the 2016 World Junior Championships with 17 points in seven games.

- Ready to go -"I am ready to play next year," said Puljujarvi. "It is a very exciting day for me. Edmonton is a great hockey city."

There were also several significant trades made on draft day with the biggest being the Calgary Flames acquiring goaltender Brian Elliott from the St. Louis Blues.

The Blues received the Flames' second-round pick (No. 35 overall) and a conditional third-round pick in 2018.

The 31-year-old Elliott, of Canada, played 41 regular-season games for St. Louis in 2015-16 and ranked in the NHL's top five in goals-against average.

He finished with a record of 23-8-2. He also led the Blues to the Western Conference Finals in 2015-16, posting a 2.44 goals against average in 18 playoff appearances.  

The Chicago Blackhawks acquired two second-round picks (39th and 45th overall) from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for gritty veteran forward Andrew Shaw.

The 24-year-old Shaw had 14 goals and 20 assists this past season, but he is set to become a free agent on July 1. Shaw is reportedly seeking a contract worth $4.5 million per season which the Blackhawks are not willing to pay.

"He's the kind of player that drags his teammates into the fight," said Montreal GM Marc Bergevin.

Source :AFP

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