MONTREAL - There was talk the Toronto Maple Leafs would deal their way up to get London Knights supersniper John Tavares in last night's NHL draft.
And if that didn't work out, they'd get Brandon centre Brayden Schenn, brother of Leafs defenceman Luke.
But it didn't work out that way, perhaps to the frustration of Toronto GM Brian Burke, who grabbed Knights winger Nazem Kadri, beating the Ottawa Senators to the punch. The Senators drafted huge Spokane defenceman Jared Cowen, who suffered a serious knee injury last year, with the ninth pick.
"My ego is not that big that I have to stand up and make the first pick," said Burke. "We're not frustrated. We think we got an excellent player."
"I feel great," said Kadri, a lifelong Montreal Canadiens fan. "It's a great feeling to be part of the Toronto Maple Leafs."
The New York Islanders, who were busy in the first round, ended weeks of wild speculation by taking Tavares first overall. And the Los Angeles Kings grabbed Schenn with the fifth choice.
The Canadiens brought the fans to their feet with the 18th selection- centre Louis Leblanc, from Kirkland, Que. He played last season with Omaha of the USHL.
"I'm from Montreal so this is a great night," said Leblanc, who is planning to go to Harvard. "There are 30 teams and you don't know who'll pick you, but this is great."
The Islanders later moved up twice, once with Columbus, then with Minnesota to draft Ottawa's (actually nearby Carp) Calvin de Haan, a defenceman with the Oshawa Generals.
There was also a major trade announced early.
The Philadelphia Flyers acquired defenceman Chris Pronger and prospect Ryan Dingle from the Anaheim Ducks for forwards Joffrey Lupul and Luca Sbisa, first-round picks in 2009 and 2010 and a conditional third-round pick in 2010 or 2011.
This was a day, it seemed, for which Tavares was destined since being branded an "exceptional player" and allowed early entry into the Ontario Hockey League draft as a 14-year-old.
While there was some debate over the last season about whether it would be Tavares or towering Swedish defenceman Victor Hedman who would go No. 1, Tavares separated himself with a great performance at the world junior tournament in Ottawa, leading Canada to the gold medal.
Tavares, 18, led the OHL in goals this season with 58 in 56 games and set a career OHL goal scoring record with 215, breaking former Ottawa 67 Peter Lee's 33-year-old record. He had 72 as a 16-year-old, breaking Wayne Gretzky¹s record.
Hedman wound up going second overall to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"(Tavares) proved this year in junior hockey he is deserving of the No. 1 selection," said E.J. McGuire, the NHL's director of central scouting. "He is probably better than any other player in the draft from the top of the circle down at being a threat to score. He is pure offence and for his first years in the NHL will probably be asked to do just that.
"I'm reminded of Joe Sakic. I know I compared Sidney Crosby to Sakic, so perhaps a Tavares to Crosby comparison is not out of order for this year." Matt Duchene of the OHL's Brampton Battalion went third overall to the Colorado Avalanche.
"Duchene has the ability to dominate a game. He is an excellent all-round skater with great speed, his playmaking, ability to see the ice and move the puck through traffic to create offence are outstanding," said Chris Edwards of the NHL¹s Central Scouting Bureau.
"He has a very good shot, but I see his best asset as his speed and ability to beat defencemen to the middle or outside." The 5-foot-11, 200-pound native of Haliburton was the second-ranked North American skater, according to Central Scouting.
The second year member of the Battalion was voted the best playmaker and best stickhandler in the OHL Eastern Conference coaches' poll.
Evander Kane, a centre with Vancouver of the WHL, was taken fourth by the Atlanta Thrashers.
Swedish defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson went sixth to Phoenix. The Dallas Stars took Brandon's Scott Glennie with the eighth choice.
The Edmonton Oilers grabbed Swedish left winger Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson with the 10th pick.
Fast-rising defenceman Ryan Ellis, who played for Windsor of the OHL, was taken 11th by Nashville.
The Buffalo Sabres took nasty right winger Zack Kassian with the 13th pick.
Kassian is a scrapper with plenty of grit and some scoring touch.
With the 14th pick, the Florida Panthers took offensive defenceman Dmitri Kulikov, who played in Drummondville of the QMJHL last season. The Anaheim Ducks took centre Peter Holland from Guelph of the OHL with the 15th choice.
The Wild went local with the 16th choice, grabbing high-school defenceman Nick Leddy, named Minnesota's Mr. Hockey.
The St. Louis Blues selected Swedish defenceman David Rundblad with the 17th choice.
The New York Rangers picked Andover Academy centre Chris Kreider with the 19th selection.
The Calgary Flames, holding the 20th pick, moved down to 23rd and also acquired the 84th pick from the New Jersey Devils, who took Swedish centre Jacob Josefson with the 20th choice.
The Flames, with the 23rd choice, got rangy Swedish defenceman Tim Erixon.
Columbus moved into the 21st spot, giving the Ducks the 26th and 37th choices. The Blue Jackets took defenceman John Moore.
With goalie Roberto Luongo making the pick, the Canucks got University of Minnesota centre Jordan Schroeder, who was projected to be drafted much higher, with the 22nd selection.
The Washington Capitals took centre Marcus Johansson with the 24th choice.
The Boston Bruins grabbed centre Jordan Caron with the 25th pick. Anaheim, with a pick from the Islanders, took Kyle Palmieri, a winger/centre, with the 26th pick. The Carolina Hurricanes grabbed centre Philippe Paradis with the 27th choice. The Chicago Blackhawks, picking 28th, got defenceman Dylan Olsen. Tampa Bay dealt with Detroit and took winger Carter Ashton with the 29th pick. The Pittsburgh Penguins, with the final choice of the first round, grabbed defenceman Simon Depres.