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Winners and losers on Day 1 of the NHL Draft

The first round of the NHL draft featured a slightly unexpected opening selection, a lack of fireworks in the middle, and a trio of late deals.

The New Jersey Devils took Nico Hischier over Nolan Patrick with the first overall pick, but no genuine drama came until the opening round was about to conclude.

Here are the winners and losers on the first day and night of the 2017 draft festivities in Chicago:


St. Louis Blues

The Blues were clearly the biggest winners, and it wasn't particularly close.

St. Louis landed 25-goal scorer Brayden Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers for Jori Lehtera, the 27th overall pick that became Morgan Frost, and a conditional first-rounder next year.

The Blues also dealt grinder Ryan Reaves and the 51st pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Oskar Sundqvist and the 31st selection, which they used to take Klim Kostin, the top-ranked European skater coming into the draft.

Not only that, but they made a smooth pick by taking Rob(ert) Thomas 20th overall.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Mark Hunter worked his magic yet again.

The Leafs assistant general manager and resident draft guru nabbed promising Swedish defenseman Timothy Liljegren at No. 17, telling Sportsnet's Chris Johnston afterwards that he "would have been shocked" last year to hear Liljegren would be taken in that spot in 2017.

Toronto's historical success in first round is well documented - most notably with Mitch Marner and William Nylander - but Hunter's latest pick earned universal praise in its own right.


It was a good night to be a Finnish draft prospect.

A record six Finns were taken in the first round, according to Sportsnet, including third overall choice Miro Heiskanen and 30th pick Eeli Tolvanen.

Heiskanen was the only one to go in the top 10, but Finland accounted for four defensemen and two wingers in the first 31 selections.

Nashville Predators

When you're a Stanley Cup finalist, you're not typically going to have a high pick, and the Predators were stuck with the penultimate choice in Round 1, but that didn't stop GM of the Year David Poile from making his mark.

Nashville went for Tolvanen, who ESPN's Corey Pronman called "the steal of the first round," according to The Tennessean's Adam Vingan.


Pittsburgh Penguins

The two-time defending champions came into the night holding the final pick of the opening round, but GM Jim Rutherford decided to package it with Sundqvist to get his hands on Reaves, a physical winger who hit career highs with seven goals and 13 points to go along with his 104 penalty minutes this season.

If Kostin turns into the dynamic scorer some believe he will be, this one's going to look even worse on Rutherford than it already does.

Colorado Avalanche

In a bit of trade deadline deja vu, Matt Duchene didn't go anywhere on the first night of this draft.

The Avalanche were happy to take Cale Makar fourth overall, but Joe Sakic missed an opportunity to move into the top two for Hischier or Patrick despite boasting one of the league's biggest trade chips.

Duchene could certainly be moved later Friday night or on Saturday when the draft resumes, but Colorado's reluctance to pull the trigger on a trade at the top of the draft might be a decision the Avalanche brass comes to regret.

Detroit Red Wings

Ken Holland is clearly not used to picking this high.

Michael Rasmussen wasn't a brutal selection at No. 9, but the Red Wings had better options on the board, arguably including Gabriel Vilardi, who went to the Los Angeles Kings two picks later.

Detroit hasn't picked in the top 10 since 1991, but that doesn't excuse a choice that could have been better.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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No. 1 pick Nico Hischier: ‘I love to hockey’

Not only is the kid supremely talented on the ice, it appears he's got some marketing chops, too.

Nico Hischier, after being drafted first overall by the New Jersey Devils on Friday night in Chicago, was basically left speechless after becoming the first Swiss player to go No. 1.

"I love to hockey," Hischier said in an interview with NBCSN, which you can watch at Yahoo Sports.

Who wouldn't buy a T-shirt with "I love to hockey" on it?

Hischier said he had no idea if he'd be selected first, and Devils general manager Ray Shero held his cards tight all the way to the end.

"I asked Ray maybe 10 minutes before he picked and he still wouldn't tell me," Philaelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall said, according to NHL.com's Adam Kimelman. "I give him credit. That's what he should have done. He kept it quiet right to the bitter end. Honestly I didn't have an expectation one way or the other. We liked both players."

That other player Hextall's referencing is Nolan Patrick, who went to Philly at No. 2.

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Watch: Bettman wants more boos

There aren't many commissioners in professional sports who get booed quite as much - or as aggressively - as Gary Bettman does.

That trend continued Friday night in Chicago at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, as Bettman was showered with Bronx cheers each time he stepped to the podium

However, the derision Bettman received this time around apparently wasn't up to the level he's used to, as the league's head honcho urged the Chicago faithful to step their boo-game up a notch.

At least he's having fun with it.

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Stars GM expects to get rid of a goalie next week

The Dallas Stars expect to have one fewer goaltender on their roster come next week.

Following the first-round selection of goalie Jake Oettinger on Friday night, general manager Jim Nill said he expects to rid the club of a player at the position, but wouldn't confirm if that would come via trade or buyout, according to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston.

The Stars' goaltender depth chart is quite full at the moment. Back in May, the club acquired Ben Bishop from the Los Angeles Kings before signing him to a six-year contract.

Then on Friday night, the Stars made a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks to move up three spots and select Oettinger out of Boston University. Oettnger entered the draft as the top-ranked goaltender in North America, according to NHL Central Scouting.

Nill's claim likely means one of Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi will be moved out. This past season, Niemi and Lehtonen had the second- and fourth-worst save percentages among goalies who played at least 25 games, and the worst and ninth-worst goals-against averages, respectively.

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Blues nab Klim Kostin with final pick in 1st round after trade with Pens

The St. Louis Blues drafted Klim Kostin 31st overall Friday night after acquiring the pick from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Klim Kostin

Position: Left Wing/Center
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 196 lbs
Age: 18
Club: Dynamo Moscow
Nationality: Russian

The Russian forward wasn't one of the most coveted prospects entering this draft, but he did have a couple of things in common with Nolan Patrick.

Kostin's KHL campaign was derailed by an injury, as a shoulder ailment limited him to only eight games and forced him to have season-ending surgery in February.

Despite the setback, he finished atop NHL Central Scouting's final rankings for European skaters, just as Patrick's injury didn't stop him from being ranked first among North American non-goaltenders.

Kostin possesses an intriguing mix of size and skill. He impressed at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup last summer, and appeared to put this winter's injury behind him when he was medically cleared at the NHL Scouting Combine earlier in June.

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Blues trade Reaves, 51st pick to Penguins for 31st, Sundqvist

The Pittsburgh Penguins added some toughness on their quest to a third straight Stanley Cup title.

The Penguins acquired forward Ryan Reaves and the 51st overall pick from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for forward Oskar Sundqvist and the 31st overall pick, the Blues announced.

The Blues ended up selecting Russian forward Klim Kostin with the 31st pick.

Related: Blues nab Klim Kostin with final pick in 1st round

The Penguins were apparently eager to acquire some toughness to protect the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel. Reaves has racked up 695 penalty minutes and 1,324 hits across 419 career NHL games.

In doing so, the Pens passed up on a chance to acquire some high-end skill.

By all reports, Kostin has elite offensive upside. He was the No. 1 ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting heading into the draft, but he was limited to just eight games for Moscow Dynamo in the KHL this season due to a shoulder injury.

Kostin stands at 6-foot-3 and is considered a mobile power forward who plays a physical game. In addition to his size, he is also a strong skater with good speed and possesses a high hockey IQ.

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Flyers trade Brayden Schenn to Blues for Lehtera, picks

The Philadelphia Flyers traded forward Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for the 27th overall pick in this year's draft, center Jori Lehtera, and a conditional first-round pick in 2018.

The Flyers took Morgan Frost, a center from the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, with the 27th selection.

Schenn is coming off his second straight season with at least 25 goals and 55 points, following a 26-goal, 59-point campaign in 2015-16. He signed a four-year, $20.5-million contract extension with the Flyers last summer.

Lehtera's production declined again in his third NHL season, as he posted only 22 points in 64 games.

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Stars trade up to select Jake Oettinger 26th overall

The Dallas Stars traded the 29th overall selection and the 70th pick in the draft to the Chicago Blackhawks for the 26th pick, which it used to select goaltender Jake Oettinger on Friday night.

Jake Oettinger

Position: Goalie
Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 205 lbs
Age: 18
Club: Boston University
Nationality: American

35 21 11 3 2.11 .927 4

Oettinger was the top North American goalie on NHL Central Scouting's final rankings, and deservedly so.

The 18-year-old impressed in his freshman campaign with the Terriers after spending two seasons in the U.S. national team development program.

Whether he ends up being the best goalie in the 2017 class will be interesting to see, as International Scouting Services ranked Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen the top netminding prospect in this draft over Oettinger, but the latter certainly has the tools to justify a relatively early selection.

Oettinger started playing as a blue-liner until switching positions at age 10, and he still brings that puck-moving approach to the crease.

"I definitely have a feel for what it's like to be a defenseman and have the goalie play the puck to you," he told NHL.com's Adam Kimelman last fall. "For me nowadays, I try to get the puck off my stick as quickly as I can and let the defenseman break the puck out. ... It's their job to get the puck out of the zone. I've just got to stop the puck."

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Flames bolster defense, draft Juuso Valimaki 16th overall

The Calgary Flames added one of the most touted defensemen in the draft, selecting Juuso Valimaki 16th overall Friday at the NHL Entry Draft.

Juuso Valimaki

Position: Defense
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 201 lbs
Age: 18
Club: Tri-City Americans (WHL)
Nationality: Finland

60 19 42 61 0.2 0.48 50%

(Even-strength stats courtesy: prospect-stats.com)

Valimaki entered the draft as the 11th-ranked North American skater, and the second-ranked defenseman. A native of Finland, the 18-year-old appears to be the complete package on the blue line, and should immediately shoot to the top of the Flames' prospect pool.

Mobility is Valimaki's best asset, as his effortless stride allowed him to dominate the WHL this season, finishing seventh among defensemen in league scoring, and the only player of his age to crack the top 10.

Valimaki isn't physically imposing on the ice, but is a legitimate offensive threat. He operated the Americans' power play frequently in 2016-17, managing 25 points - 17 of which primary - with the man advantage.

You can see highlights of Valimaki's draft season below.

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