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Wednesday, November 8, 2000
DiPietro first goalie to go first overall

CALGARY, Alberta -- Rick DiPietro became the first goalie to be drafted No. 1 under the current entry draft format when the New York Islanders selected the 18-year-old star from Boston University on Saturday.

2001 NHL entry draft to be held in Florida
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- The Florida Panthers will play host to the 2001 NHL entry draft, the league announced Saturday.

The draft will be held June 22-24 at the Panthers home arena in Sunrise, Fla.

DiPietro, from Winthrop, Mass., was the top-ranked North American goalie by NHL Central Scouting. He went 17-3-5 with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage this season. He also set an NCAA record with 77 saves in one game.

"It's a fantastic honor," said DiPietro, who left Boston University after only one year. "It's something I never imagined happening."

After just one year of college, DiPietro made himself available for the draft and voided his remaining three years of eligibility. The decision was made to avoid going into a goalie-heavy draft next year.

"We're hanging a lot of reputation on this kid," general manager Mike Milbury said. "It's gutsy, and maybe crazy ... but we think he's a really special player."

Islanders goalie Roberto Luongo was the highest goalie chosen in draft history when New York took him with the fourth pick in the 1997 draft. Goalie Michel Plasse was the first pick overall by Montreal in 1968 under rules governing the amateur draft.

DiPietro was only the second American to be chosen top goaltender at this year's world junior championship. He was 2-2-1 record with a 1.81 GAA and a .935 save percentage for the fourth-place U.S. team.

New York made room for DiPietro earlier Saturday by trading 25-year-old goalie Kevin Weekes to the Tampa Bay Lightning along with prospect defenseman Kristian Kudra. The Islanders got the Lightning's first pick, fifth overall.

The Islanders also traded Luongo, along with forward Olli Jokinen, to the Florida Panthers for forwards Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish.

"We were really shifting assets here," Milbury said. "We have a different type of goaltender in DiPietro. We're really wrenched over the loss of Luongo. He's a quality kid and a quality goaltender."

With both top goalies gone, DiPietro will be asked to perform right away in the NHL.

"It's a lot of pressure but it's something I really want," he said.

The Atlanta Thrashers followed and picked forward Dany Heatley from the Wisconsin Badgers. Heatley was expected to go first after being the top-ranked North American forward.

Marian Gaborik
Gaborik went to the Wild at No. 3.

Heatley, 19, had 27 goals and 23 assists in 34 games with the Badgers this season. He was also one of Canada's top forwards at the world juniors.

"I'm thrilled to be a Thrasher," Heatley said. "I've got some work to do, in the weight room and things like that, but hopefully I can jump in and contribute."

The expansion Minnesota Wild chose left wing Marian Gaborik from Slovakia with the third pick.

Gaborik, the fourth-ranked European from Central Scouting, scored 25 goals and set up 22 more in 50 games with Trencin of Slovakia. He played in the world juniors two years ago when he was 16.

"We felt if anybody could come right in and play, it was him," Wild GM Doug Risebrough said. "But we won't rush him."

The other expansion team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, then took defenseman Rostislav Klesla from Brampton of the Ontario Hockey League. The Prague native had 16 goals and 29 assists in 67 games this season.

"We really believe this kid can come in right now and make our hockey team," Columbus GM Doug MacLean said. "We think he's the best defenseman in the draft."

With the pick from the Lightning, the Islanders chose Battalion left wing Raffi Torres, who had 43 goals and 48 assists in 68 games.

"I can't even feel my legs right now," he said.

The Nashville Predators drafted right wing Scott Hartnell from Prince Albert of the Western Hockey League. Hartnell had 27 goals and 55 assists in 62 games this season.

At No. 7, the Boston Bruins took Swedish defenseman Lars Jonsson, who had 16 goals and 22 assists in 34 games with Leksands of Sweden.

With the eighth pick, the Lightning chose Russian right wing Nikita Alexeev from Erie of the OHL. Alexeev, who is 6-foot-5, had 24 goals and 29 assists in 64 games this season.

Calgary then selected local star Brent Krahn of the WHL's Calgary Hitmen. The 6-4 goalie had a 2.38 GAA and a .912 save percentage this season.

"I was really hoping to go to Calgary," Krahn said. "It's a great city and I'm really excited."

The Chicago Blackhawks chose Russian players with the 10th and 11th picks. They took center Mikhail Yakubov and followed with right wing Pavel Vorobiev.

The Montreal Canadiens took defenseman Ron Hainsey from Massachusetts-Lowell with the 13th pick and center Marcel Hossa at No. 16. Marcel's brother Marian is a star with the Ottawa Senators.

Anaheim took left wing Alexei Smirnov from Dynamo, Russia with the 12th pick.

All-Star defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh was dealt from Colorado to Carolina, along with a second-round pick, for the Hurricanes' first three picks (Nos. 14, 47 and 63) and defenseman Nolan Pratt. Colorado selected Vaclav Nedorost, a center who played with Budejovice of the Czech Republic at No. 14, before Buffalo picked forward Artem Kriukov from Yaroslavl, Russia.

The Edmonton Oilers tabbed forward Alexei Mikhnov, another Yaroslavl player, with the 17th pick. Boston College players, defenseman Brooks Orpik and center Krystofer Rolanos went consecutively to Pittsburgh and Phoenix.

Los Angeles then took the fourth Yaroslavl player of the first round, left wing Alexander Frolov. Ottawa also looked to Russia for the 21st pick when they chose defenseman Anton Volchenkov.

The Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils took defenseman David Hale from Sioux City of the United States Hockey League; Vancouver chose center Nathan Smith; Toronto followed with center Brad Boyes and runner-up Dallas selected center Steve Ott.

Washington used the 26th selection on center Brian Sutherby. The Boston Bruins exercised an option they earned in the trade that sent defenseman Ray Bourque to Colorado and chose Swedish defenseman Martin Samuelsson.

Justin Williams was selected by Philadelphia at No. 28; Detroit followed with Swedish defenseman Niklas Kronvall and St. Louis closed out the first round, choosing Minnesota center Jeff Taffe.

The first three rounds of the nine-round draft were scheduled for Saturday, with the rest on Sunday.

2000 NHL draft first-round picks's NHL Draft 2000 coverage

 The New York Islanders select Rick DiPietro with the No.1 pick.
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 The Atlanta Thrashers select forward Dany Heatley with the second pick.
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 The Minnesota Wild name their first draft pick in franchise history.
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 The Columbus Blue Jackets make their first ever entry draft selection.
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 ESPN's NHL draft team breaks down a busy day around the league.
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 Rick DiPietro is honored to be selected first overall by the Islanders.
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 Dany Heatley is excited to join Atlanta as the second pick.
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 Mike Milbury puts his reputation on the line by drafting Rick DePietro.
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