x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Islanders make Tavares the No 1 pick

The Isles end weeks of speculation by selecting the high scoring forward with the first pick in the National Hockey League draft.

Tavares is flanked by the second pick, Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning, left, and Matt Duchene, who was picked by the Colorado Avalanche with the third pick in Montreal.
Tavares is flanked by the second pick, Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning, left, and Matt Duchene, who was picked by the Colorado Avalanche with the third pick in Montreal.

MONTREAL // The New York Islanders ended weeks of speculation by selecting the high scoring forward John Tavares with the first pick in the National Hockey League draft on Friday night. Tavares, 18, set the Ontario Hockey League's career goal scoring record in four seasons in the junior league and was the top-rated prospect heading into the draft. The Islanders refused to announce who they would take with their number one selection prior to the draft, leading to speculation that they would either deal the pick or perhaps take the towering Swedish defenceman Victor Hedman.

"I was just like everybody else, wondering what the decision would be," Tavares said. "It was obviously a great moment for me and a special feeling. "I can't wait to get started and it's a great opportunity for me. I couldn't be more happy right now and excited about my opportunity to play for Long Island and the Islanders." New York's general manager Garth Snow said that Tavares was the player they most coveted from the outset.

"John's a special hockey player and an even better person," Snow said. "We had some offers to deal the pick but nothing we really considered. We're very fortunate to have a player of his abilities." Tampa Bay used its second pick to take Hedman, a 6ft 6in (1.98m) defenceman who played last season for Modo of the Swedish Elite League. "I'm just happy to become an NHL player," Hedman said. "It became Tampa and I'm just as happy as I can be."

With the third pick, the Colorado Avalanche took the forward Matt Duchene of the OHL's Brampton, who is rated as a good playmaker. Atlanta selected the forward Evander Kane from the Western Hockey League with the fourth pick, while the Los Angeles Kings took WHL's Brandon forward Brayden Schenn, younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs' defenceman Luke Schenn. The Phoenix Coyotes, who are in bankruptcy court as they try to find new owners, took the defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson from Leksand in Sweden with the sixth pick.

The Anaheim Ducks and Philadelphia Flyers swung a major deal early in the draft, with the Ducks trading veteran defenceman Chris Pronger. The former Hart and Norris Trophy winner was dealt along with forward Ryan Dingle to the Flyers for defenceman Luca Sbisa, the forward Joffrey Lupul, the Flyers' first round pick (21st overall) in 2009, first round pick in 2010 and a conditional third round pick in 2010 or 2011.

* Reuters