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NHL draft notebook

Americans make splash; Rangers snag Cherepanov

Posted: Saturday June 23, 2007 6:44PM; Updated: Sunday June 24, 2007 2:12AM
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Patrick Kane (left) and James vanRiemsdyk became the first U.S. players to go with the first two picks in the NHL draft.
Patrick Kane (left) and James vanRiemsdyk became the first U.S. players to go with the first two picks in the NHL draft.
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• The 2007 NHL draft marked two firsts for U.S. hockey. It was the first time two U.S.-born players were chosen with the first two picks, as the Blackhawks took Patrick Kane from Buffalo at No. 1 and the Flyers grabbed James vanRiemsdyk from Middletown, N.J. at No. 2. It was also the first time that U.S. players had gone No. 1 in consecutive years. The St. Louis Blues took defenseman Erik Johnson with the top pick in 2006. Ten U.S.-born players were among the 30 chosen in the first round on Friday.

• Though there were surprisingly no blockbuster moves during the first round, Oilers GM Kevin Lowe confessed afterwards that his team was nearly involved in one that would have allowed them to move up to the No. 2 spot where they would have picked Burnaby center Kyle Turris. The transaction was a stepladder deal involving four teams. "It was done, as far as I understood it," Lowe said. "But as the music was playing just before the pick, one of the teams backed out. That negated all the moves." (Lowe later referred to the gun-shy GM as "Homer.") Instead, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren chose vanRiemsdyk from the U.S. national team at No. 2. The Oilers, who had three selections in the first round, took forward Sam Gagner at No. 6, defenseman Alex Plante at No. 15 and center Riley Nash at No. 21.

• With 15 picks completed Friday, the Minnesota Wild sent their 19th pick and 42nd pick to the Anaheim Ducks in return for the No. 16 held by Anaheim, which originally obtained that pick from Tampa Bay. That guaranteed the Wild a chance to draft Colton Gillies, a bruising center from Saskatoon of the WHL. Gillies amassed 30 points and 148 penalty minutes last season, numbers that might have made his uncle, Clark Gillies, proud. Gillies, an NHL Hall of Famer, won four Stanley Cups with the Islanders, but was best known as one of the game's all-time heavyweight fighters. Two of Gillies' scrappy teammates on those Islander squads were forwards Brent and Duane Sutter, two of the six Sutter brothers who laid waste to much of the NHL when the mood suited them. The Hurricanes chose Brent's son, Brandon, a Red Deer forward, with the 11th pick Friday. Brandon totaled 57 points and just 54 PIMs playing for the Rebels last season. Another scrappy forward who comes to mind on those Islander cup winners is Bob Nystrom, whose son, Eric, was a first-round pick of the Flames (10th overall) in 2002.

• On a scan of the floor at Nationwide Arena on Friday night, the longest one-on-one conversation (about 10 minutes) appeared to take place between Lou Lamoriello of the Devils and his divisional rival Garth Snow of the Islanders. The GMs talked again during the proceedings, but did not make a transaction and according to Lamoriello, were "just chatting among friends."

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