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Washington Capitals select Russian forward Evgeny Kuznetsov in first round of NHL Draft
"I can't really compare [myself] to any NHL players yet, but [I] like how Evgeny Malkin plays and that style of play and also Pavel Datsyuk," Kuznetsov said through an interpreter.
More than two hours before Kuznetsov was drafted, league-worst Edmonton selected Taylor Hall over rival Tyler Seguin with the No. 1 pick, thus ending the most heated who-should-go-first debate since the Capitals picked Ovechkin ahead of Malkin in 2004. Seguin was picked moments later by Boston.
Hall, a hard-hitting left wing, finished tied with Seguin, a smooth skating center, for the Ontario Hockey League scoring title with 106 points.
"Hopefully I can make that team next year," said Hall, whose father, Steve, was a wide receiver in the Canadian Football League for Winnipeg, Edmonton and Ottawa. "That's my first step. We can really recreate some of the magic they had there."
It was the highlight of an otherwise ho-hum first round. In the days leading up to the draft, speculation was rampant that picking prospects might be overshadowed by blockbuster trades involving NHL players.
But the only swaps were minor ones. Florida dealt defenseman Keith Ballard and Victor Oreskovich to Vancouver for Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier and the 25th pick.
The other notable trade involved local player Jarred Tinordi. Montreal moved up to No. 22 to snag the 6-foot-6, 205-pound defenseman, who is the son of former Capitals defenseman Mark Tinordi and a native of Millersville.
The big trades that created so much buzz leading up to Friday's first round, however, will have to wait.
"It might happen in the next weeks; it may not happen here the next few days," McPhee said. "It's hard to do trades now because if you move something and you get something else, you create a hole here. It's a really hard league to make trades in."
Capitals notes: McPhee disputed a recent report that said pending restricted free agent Chris Bourque had signed a contract with Kontinetal Hockey League team HK Atlant. "It's not true as far as we know," McPhee said. . . . Washington's media relations staff claimed its fourth consecutive Dick Dillman Award as the top staff in the Eastern Conference as voted by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. . . . The Capitals will have picks 86, 116, 142, 146 and 176 when the draft resumes Saturday morning.