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Nugent-Hopkins heads to Edmonton with top NHL pick

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was picked first in a center-heavy NHL draft by the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night.

The Oilers, going first overall for the second straight year, selected the slick passer from the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. The 18-year-old center led the WHL last season with 75 assists.

Nugent-Hopkins is the first WHL player to be drafted first since 1996. Six of the first eight picks were centers.

Left wing Gabriel Landeskog of Sweden went second to the Colorado Avalanche. He had 36 goals in 53 games last season for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League.

The Oilers chose left wing Taylor Hall from the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL No. 1 in 2010, and Nugent-Hopkins could eventually find himself on a line with him.

To get there, Nugent-Hopkins has to bulk up. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 164 pounds, the native of British Columbia said this week he's added 10 pounds since the end of his junior season and plans to pack on five more.

"Steak and potatoes, mostly," he said when asked about his diet. "Just trying to put some weight on."

Jonathan Huberdeau, a center from Quebec, was taken third by the Florida Panthers, who were also in the same slot for the second year in a row. Huberdeau was the MVP of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs after getting three goals and three assists in four games for the Saint John's Sea Dogs.

Adam Larsson, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound defenseman from Sweden, was selected fourth by the New Jersey Devils. He played two full seasons for Skelleftea and was the third blue-liner to make his debut in the Swedish Elite League at age 16.

Then the New York Islanders chose center Ryan Strome of the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL. Strome was third in the league with 106 points in 65 games. Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo, a native of Minnesota, introduced Strome. The Islanders, too, were picking fifth for the second straight year.

After that, the Ottawa Senators chose center Mika Zibanejad from Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League. His mother is Finnish, and his father is Iranian, but he was born in Stockholm.

Then came the big announcement by Winnipeg: The team will be called the Jets. Formerly the Atlanta Thrashers, the franchise waited until the seconds before choosing center Mark Schiefele with the seventh selection to announce the new - er, old - nickname.

Team chairman Mark Chipman spilled the poorly kept secret as he turned to general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to make the pick "on behalf of the Winnipeg Jets." That drew cheers and "Go Jets go!" chants from the dozens of fans wearing white T-shirts with the old red-and-blue Jets logo.

The Philadelphia Flyers, using the eighth pick they obtained in Thursday's stunning trade of leading scorer Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets, took center Sean Couturier of the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL.

Defenseman Dougie Hamilton was drafted ninth overall by the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. The son of an Olympic rower (dad) and basketball player (mom), Hamilton had 58 points in 67 games last season for Niagara in the OHL.

Then came more cheers from the crowd, with defenseman Jonas Brodin from Farjestad of the Swedish Elite League drawing a roar from the Wild fans in attendance at Xcel Energy Center. Brodin put his arms around new head coach Mike Yeo and assistant general manager Brent Flahr as he posed for pictures.

The Avalanche were the first team to pick twice. They took defenseman Duncan Siemens at No. 11, a selection obtained earlier this year in a trade with the St. Louis Blues headlined by defenseman Erik Johnson, himself a No. 1 overall pick. Siemens was plus-40 for the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL last season.

The run of defenseman continued when Ryan Murphy went at No. 12 to the Carolina Hurricanes. He led OHL blue-liners with 26 goals last season for Kitchener. Then at No. 13, the Calgary Flames picked left wing Sven Baertschi of the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. The native of Switzerland had 34 goals and 51 assists in 66 games last season.