Stamkos selected No. 1 overall in NHL Draft

By John Wawrow

OTTAWA – Steven Stamkos was selected with the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night.

The Lightning made no secret how much they liked the speedy, offensive-minded 18-year-old forward from suburban Toronto and chose him just minutes after they went onto the draft clock.

Tampa Bay, coming off an NHL-low, 31-win season, had the first pick in the draft for the second time. The Lightning chose Vincent Lecavalier No. 1 in 1998.

Lightning general manager Jay Feaster has been so impressed with Stamkos, that he’s already got him penciled in as his second-line center for the upcoming season. Rated the top prospect by NHL Central Scouting, Stamkos is listed at 6-foot and 183 pounds. He produced 197 points (100 goals and 97 assists) in 124 games over two seasons with Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League.

The draft then followed what many had predicted: plenty of defensemen being drafted and lots of trades, too.

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    Calgary completed two deals, trading center Alex Tanguay to Montreal for the Canadiens’ first-round pick (25th) this year, and their second-round pick next year. The Flames then acquired Los Angeles Kings center Mike Cammalleri in a trade involving three teams.

    Calgary sent its first-round pick, No. 17, to Los Angeles. The Kings then dealt that pick and the 28th selection to Anaheim for the Ducks’ first-rounder, No. 12 overall.

    Phoenix acquired Florida Panthers captain Olli Jokinen for defensemen Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton and the 49th pick in this year’s draft.

    Columbus acquired Flyers forward R.J. Umberger and Philadelphia’s fourth-round pick (118th), for the Blue Jackets’ second of two first-round picks (No. 19) and their third-rounder (No. 67).

    After Stamkos, four straight defensemen were selected to round out the top 5. The Kings took Drew Doughty from Guelph of the OHL with the second pick, and Atlanta followed with the selection of another blue-liner – Zach Bogosian from Peterborough of the OHL – at No. 3.

    St. Louis selected Alex Pietrangelo from Niagara of the OHL with the fourth pick, and the Toronto Maple Leafs completed a complicated deal with the New York Islanders, moving up two spots from No. 7 to pick Luke Schenn, who played for Kelowna of the Western Hockey League.

    The Islanders acquired Toronto’s first-round pick and second- and third-round selections. New York will have the option to use the second-round pick this year, which would give them Toronto’s third-rounder next year, or take the third-rounder this year and select in the second round next year.

    Columbus, with the sixth pick, took a chance and chose top-ranked European prospect Nikita Filatov. NHL teams have shied away from Russians in fear they might not play in North America because of the lack of a transfer agreement. Filatov, however, has vowed he’ll play in the NHL, and even committed to playing in the Canadian Junior Hockey League if he didn’t make a big league roster.

    Stamkos’ selection ends a two-year run of U.S.-born players being chosen first: this season’s NHL rookie of the year Patrick Kane, who was chosen by Chicago last year, and defenseman Erik Johnson, who was selected by St. Louis in 2006.

    Sidney Crosby, of Nova Scotia, was selected first by Pittsburgh in the 2005 draft, which was also held in Ottawa. That was a much more low-key event as the league rushed to return after ending the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season.

    The Lightning missed the playoffs by finishing with a league-worst 31 wins this season, but they maintain a talented core including Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Dan Boyle.

    The Lightning were so sure of their choice that they already begun a marketing campaign, titled, “Seen Stamkos,” and advertising him as “Coming soon to Hockey Bay, USA,” in reference to Tampa Bay.