First round rundown

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

After weeks of wild speculation and wacky rumours, the New York Islanders did the expected.

They took John Tavares No. 1, trumping the efforts of Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke to grab the London Knights supersniper.

In the end, there was no mystery when Islanders GM Garth Snow stepped to the microphone and made the flashy centre the top pick.

As more than 10,000 fans watching a video feed at the Nassau County Coliseum went wild, the draft opening went exactly as plotted out by many analysts as the Tampa Bay Lightning used the No. 2 pick on Swedish defenceman Victor Hedman and the Colorado Avalanche grabbed Brampton centre Matt Duchene at No. 3.

"I had no idea. I was just like everybody else and I was wondering what the decision might be," said Tavares. "To hear my name was a really special feeling. It just means all the hard work and the things I've gone through in my life have paid off. It was just a great moment.

"I couldn't be more happy than I am right now. It's certainly a great opportunity for me to get a chance to play with a team like the Islanders.

"It's going to be good to get the opportunity to grow with a core of guys and work into the future. You can see where this team is headed with the young players and I want to bring a winning tradition back to Long Island."

Snow kept the selection secret, but he wanted time to do his homework and make the right decision.

"I think the fans will be happy we selected the best player in our minds," said Snow. "They'll be ecstatic that John is in our organization."

Tavares said he knows the challenge will be tough.

'AN EXCITING TIME'

"I'm a guy who understands being in the spotlight," said Tavares.

"I know what it's all about and the expectations. I know it's only going to get tougher. But it's an exciting time for everybody in Long Island and with the future of where that team is going.

"Your goal is to bring success wherever you're going to play. I've got a great passion and heart for the game. I'm very determined and I'm very focused on where I want go and what I want to do."

With the Tavares pick done, the Bolts grabbed the defenceman they coveted.

"We were completely in agreement on this pick and we're thrilled to have Victor as part of the organization," said Lightning GM Brian Lawton with a smile. "Everybody knows last year how our struggles really started with our back end. To be able to add a player of this calibre, a player like Victor to our roster, we're extremely pleased."

Hedman said he will be ready to come to North America next year.

"It's really helped me to play in a men's league the last two years," said the 6-foot-6 Hedman. "I know what it's all about and what it takes to play in the NHL. It's another level and I need to bring my game to that level. That's a challenge and that's the kind of challenge I want."

While insiders predicted that Duchene might go first to the Islanders, Duchene was happy to land with the Avalanche.

"I had no idea what might happen until I saw (Tavares) go. I was sitting there thinking (before the Isles' pick) that this could be it right here. You just never know what's going to happen," said Duchene.

There was an early jolt sent through the draft when the Anaheim Ducks shipped defenceman Chris Pronger and prospect Ryan Dingle to the Philadelphia Flyers for forward Joffrey Lupul, defenceman Luca Sbisa, first-round picks in 2009 and 2010 and a conditional third-round pick in 2010 or 2011.

There was also some draft pick swapping going on in what turned out to be a long first round.

In a three-hour time slot on TSN, the draft lasted almost four hours, with several thank-yous going out in both French and English.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA

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THE FIRST ROUND

1. New York Islanders

John Tavares, C

2. Tampa Bay Lightning

Victor Hedman, D

3. Colorado Avalanche

Matt Duchene, C

4. Atlanta Thrashers

Evander Kane, C

5. Los Angeles Kings

Brayden Schenn, C

6. Phoenix Coyotes

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D

7. Toronto Maple Leafs

Nazem Kadri, C

8. Dallas Stars

Scott Glennie, RW

9. Ottawa Senators

Jared Cowen, D

10. Edmonton Oilers

Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, LW

11. Nashville Predators

Ryan Ellis, D

12. Islanders from Minnesota

Calvin de Haan, D

13. Buffalo Sabres

Zack Kassian, RW

14. Florida Panthers

Dimitri Kulikov, D

15. Anaheim Ducks

Peter Holland, C

16. Minnesota Wild (from Islanders through Columbus)

Nick Leddy, D

17. St. Louis Blues

David Rundblad, D

18. Montreal Canadiens

Louis Leblanc, C

19. New York Rangers

Chris Kreider, C

20. New Jersey Devils from Calgary Flames

Jacob Josefson, C

21. Columbus (from Anaheim through Philadelphia)

John Moore, D

22. Vancouver Canucks

Jordan Schroeder, RW

23. Calgary from New Jersey

Jacob Josefson, C

24. Washington Capitals

Marcus Johansson, C

25. Boston Bruins

Jordan Caron, C

26. Anaheim (from NYI)

Kyle Palmieri, RW/C

27. Carolina Hurricanes

Philippe Paradis, C

28. Chicago Blackhawks

Dylan Olsen, D

29. Tampa from Detroit Red Wings

Carter Ashton, LW

30. Pittsburgh Penguins

Simon Depres, D


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