Nugent-Hopkins heads to Oilers

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins took center stage when the Edmonton Oilers made him the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft.

It was quite fitting. Center was clearly the coveted position as player after player came off the board.

Nugent-Hopkins was the first to go Friday night, starting a run of pivots with six of the first eight selections. Then came the defensemen, with six being chosen in the top 14.

Nugent-Hopkins, the first Western Hockey League player to be drafted first since 1996, has been raising eyebrows at the junior level for a while. The Oilers, slotted first overall for the second straight year, selected the slick passer from the Red Deer Rebels. The 18-year-old center led the WHL last season with 75 assists.

Nugent-Hopkins said he's heard general manager Steve Tambellini is in "no rush" to bring him to Edmonton.

"If I do go back to junior, I won't be disappointed at all," Nugent-Hopkins said. "It'll be a great opportunity for us as Red Deer as a team to hopefully get to the Memorial Cup. Personally, it'll be a good development year for me, too. But my goal right now is to make the Oilers."

The remaining rounds, two through seven, will take place today.

Left wing Gabriel Landeskog of Sweden went second overall to the Colorado Avalanche. He had 36 goals in 53 games last season for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League.

Jonathan Huberdeau, a center from Quebec, was taken third by the Florida Panthers, who were also in the same slot for the second year in a row. Huberdeau was the MVP of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs after getting three goals and three assists in four games for the Saint John's Sea Dogs.

Adam Larsson, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound defenseman from Sweden, was selected fourth by the New Jersey Devils.

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