Friday marks the beginning of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft from Minnesota, where the Edmonton Oilers have the first overall choice in this year's draft. It is widely believed that the Oilers will use the first pick on Canada native, center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The young 18-year-old from British Columbia played this past season with the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL, in which he lead the league in assists, while finishing fourth in points scored.
Last season Edmonton also have the first overall selection, which they used on left-winger Taylor Hall. During his rookie campaign Hall netted 22 goals to goal along with 20 assists in 65 games played. He notched his first career hat trick on March 3rd in a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
After finishing the season 30-44-8, the Colorado Avalanche find themselves in the rare position of an early selection as they will have the second overall pick on Friday.
Another interesting team to follow is the new Winnipeg franchise, formerly the Atlanta Thrashers. The new Winnipeg team will be selecting seventh overall.
Among American players, the top overall player is likely Michigan State goalie John Gibson. At just 17 years old, the Pittsburgh native was a member of the United States Under-18 National team this past season, where he also picked up the Dave Peterson award, which is given to the top American goaltender as presented by USA Hockey.
As stated the draft begins on Friday at 6 CST on Versus and the NHL Network and will run through Saturday with seven rounds being selected.
The first 10 picks of the evening are as follows-
1. Edmonton Oilers
2. Colorado Avalanche
7. Winnipeg (unnamed team as of now)
10. Minnesota Wild
The Avalanche also own the 11th selection, while Edmonton also owns a second pick in the top 20, their second selection being the 19th pick.