On a night when the unexpected was commonplace, Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini did the expected. And Edmonton's future is brighter for it.
Tambellini used the No. 1 overall pick on Sarnia Sting right wing Nail Yakupov in Friday night's NHL Entry Draft. Yakupov is the Oilers' third straight No. 1 overall pick, joining Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Yakupov is only the third Russian ever to be the No. 1 overall pick. Ilya Kovalchuk (2001) and Alex Ovechkin (2004) are the others.
He and Sarnia teammate Alex Galchenyuk (No. 3 overall to Montreal) were the only forwards to be selected in the first 10 picks of the draft. The rest were all defensemen, including Griffin Reinhart, whom the Islanders took with the No. 4 overall pick.
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Reinhart recorded 18 goals, 61 points and 74 penalty minutes in 105 games with the Western Hockey League's Edmonton Oil Kings.
The selection of Reinhart bolsters the Islanders' defense corps in the future. The current-day unit was improved with the acquisition of Lubomir Visnovsky from Anaheim for a 2013 second-round pick.
The addition of Visnovsky to a NHL group that includes Mark Streit, Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald, along with Calvin de Haan and Matt Donovan at AHL Bridgeport, most likely means Reinhart won't be an Islander in 2012-13.
"Our organization is fortunate to have already developed a formidable young core, which gives us the flexibility to allow elite prospects like Griffin to develop. He is a highly skilled defenseman who has been very impressive in his first two WHL seasons," Snow said in a statement. "Griffin’s size and defensive instincts will be another piece to help solidify our lineup for years to come."
As will Jordan Staal with the Hurricanes. Pittsburgh traded its No. 3 center to Carolina for center Brandon Sutter, defenseman Brian Dumoulin and the No. 8 overall pick, which the Penguins used on Portland Winterhawks [WHL] defenseman Derrick Pouliot.
The trade was expected as Staal had turned down the Penguins' offer of a 10-year, $60-million extension Thursday. Staal will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, but it is widely believed he will sign an extension with the Hurricanes, who have his older brother Eric as their captain and franchise cornerstone.
"Jordan is an elite two-way player who possesses a rare combination of speed, size, scoring ability and defensive responsibility. For his young age, he has a wealth of NHL experience, including winning the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009. And he is obviously a natural fit for our team in joining our captain, his older brother Eric," Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford said in a statement.
“We want to thank Brandon Sutter for his time in Carolina. He has been a very good player for our team," Rutherford added. "We wish both Brandon and Brian the best as their careers continue.”
The Staal trade was the most noteworthy on a day that saw Columbus GM Scott Howson acquire goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky from Philadelphia for the No. 45 and No. 117 picks in the 2012 draft and a fourth-rounder next year.
Bobrovsky compiled a 14-10-2 record with a 3.02 goals against and .899 save percentage in 29 games last year.
The Rangers, whom TSN reported were in negotiations with Pittsburgh for Staal, used the No. 28 overall pick on U.S. National Developmental Program defenseman Brady Skjei. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound native of Lakeville, Minn., will play at the University of Minnesota next year.
At No. 29, the Devils took 18-year-old left wing Stefan Matteau, the son of Stephane Matteau.
The NHL announced late Friday afternoon that the Prudential Center will host next year's draft and Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center is the site of the 2014 draft.
"The Devils are pleased to be hosting the 2013 NHL Draft, a first for Prudential Center," said Chairman and Managing Partner of Devils Arena Entertainment Jeff Vanderbeek in a statement. "We appreciate the support from [NHL] Commissioner [Gary] Bettman and the assistance of Governor [Chris] Christie and Senator [Robert] Menendez in securing the important event."
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.