OTTAWA -- Welcome to the NHL, Sidney Crosby.
As expected, the Pittsburgh Penguins took the teenage phenom
from Canada with the No. 1 pick on Saturday.
"This is amazing," Crosby said. "I'm just really relieved.
It's unbelievable. I'm so happy right now."
The arrival of the young superstar, who's already been compared
to Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, is just what the NHL needed
after the lockout that erased the 2004-05 season. For Crosby, the
waiting is finally over.
Crosby, who turns 18 next week, is a 5-foot-11, 193-pound
forward with surprising strength and masterful vision on the ice. A
prolific scorer, Crosby won nearly every trophy the last two
seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
He had 66 goals and 102 assists in 62 games, after a rookie
campaign that featured 54 goals and 81 assists in 59 games, and was
the Canadian major junior player of the year both seasons.
"He creates a lot of excitement," said Lemieux, Crosby's boss
and possible linemate with the Penguins. "He has all the tools to
be a great player. He sees the ice well, he's a great skater. He
says he needs to work on his shot, but it looks pretty good to
Crosby will share the spotlight in Pittsburgh with Lemieux, the
No. 1 pick in 1984, and will be looked upon to rescue the franchise
that hasn't made the playoffs since 2001 and desperately needs a
new arena in which to play.
Pittsburgh's luck is already changing as the Penguins won last
week's draft lottery that determined the picking order of the first
"I'm not really thinking about it right now," Crosby said of
the expectations. "I want to come and play in the NHL next year.
That's my goal, that's my focus right now. I'm going to put
everything into that and try to move on from there."
The Anaheim Mighty Ducks picked Bobby Ryan with the No. 2 pick.
The rugged forward from Cherry Hill, N.J., had 37 goals and 52
assists for 89 points in 62 OHL games last season.
The Carolina Hurricanes drafted third and took Jack Johnson, a
defenseman in the U.S. national program. Scouts have compared him
to a young Scott Stevens. Johnson, who played prep school hockey in
Minnesota with Crosby, plans to enroll at Michigan.
Ryan and Johnson are the first American duo to go in the top
three picks since 1983, when Brian Lawton went No. 1 to the
Minnesota North Stars and Pat LaFontaine was taken third by the New
There were eight U.S.-born players chosen in the first round,
topping the American record of seven set in 1986 and matched in
The Minnesota Wild chose fourth Saturday and selected left
winger Benoit Pouliot. The 6-foot-3 Pouliot had 67 points --
including 29 goals -- in the OHL last season.
The Chicago Blackhawks took forward Jack Skille with the seventh
pick. Skille, of Faribault, Minn., was a teammate of Johnson's on
the U.S. squad.
Atlanta swapped the No. 8 spot with San Jose, getting the 12th,
49th and 207th picks from the Sharks. San Jose used the pick on
right winger Devin Setoguchi.
The Los Angeles Kings used the 11th pick to grab Slovenian
center Anze Kopitar, the first European selected. It was the first
time since 1987 that the top 10 didn't feature a player from
Atlanta, moving down for the second time in the first hour,
traded the No. 12 pick to the New York Rangers for the No. 16 and
No. 41 picks.
The Rangers took 6-foot-3 defenseman Marc Staal, the younger
brother of Carolina center Eric Staal who was expected to be gone
"To have this guy available to us at this position was pretty
lucky," New York general manager Glen Sather said. "And we need
The Buffalo Sabres next took Slovakian center Marek Zagrapan,
and the Washington Capitals pulled off a surprise by selecting
Cornell defenseman Sasha Pokulok, who wasn't among first-round
prospects listed by the league's Central Scouting Service.
The New York Islanders followed by picking center Ryan O'Marra,
and Atlanta finally used its No. 16 pick on forward Alex Bourret.
The Phoenix Coyotes took center Martin Hanzal, and Nashville picked
up defenseman Ryan Parent.
Detroit, with a first-round pick for the first time in five
years, chose Czech defenseman Jakub Kindl at No. 19.
Philadelphia traded the No. 20 pick to Florida for No. 29, plus
a second-round choice next year when the draft will be held in
Vancouver, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.
Boston next took defenseman Matt Lashoff, and New Jersey picked
Swedish forward Nicklas Bergfors, who intends to play in juniors
St. Louis drafted Minnesota prep T.J. Oshie, Edmonton took
forward Andrew Cogliano and Calgary selected defenseman Matt
Colorado traded the 27th pick to Washington for 47 and 52, and
the Capitals took Minnesota defenseman Joe Finley. Dallas followed
with another defenseman from the same state, Matt Niskanen.
Philadelphia took forward Steve Downie, and the Stanley Cup
champion Tampa Bay Lightning wrapped up the first round with
Slovakian defenseman Vladimir Mihalik.
There were seven Americans chosen in first round, tying the U.S.
record set in 1986 and matched in 2003.
No Russians were taken in the opening round.