Edmonton Oilers Make Russian Wing Yakupov Top Pick in NHL Draft

The Edmonton Oilers selected right wing Nail Yakupov with the first overall pick in the National Hockey League draft.

The New York Rangers selected defenseman Brady Skjei last night as the 28th overall pick. Skjei, 18, had four goals and 18 assists in 56 games with U.S. Hockey’s National Team Development Program last season.

The NHL draft will continue with rounds two through seven today at the Pittsburgh Penguins’ home ice at the Consol Energy Center.

The New Jersey Devils will host next year’s draft at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, the first time the draft will be held in the New York metropolitan area, the league said. The 2014 draft will be at the Philadelphia Flyers’ home at the Wells Fargo Center.

Yakupov, 18, who played junior hockey in Sarnia, Ontario, is the first Russian in eight years to be selected among the top five picks of the draft. The 5-foot-10, 189-pound forward this year led Russia to a silver medal at the World Junior Championships, where he had nine assists in seven games.

Yakupov scored 31 goals in 42 games last season for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League.

“There’s no pressure now, I’m just excited,” said Yakupov, the first Russian-born player taken as the No. 1 selection since Alex Ovechkin was picked by the Washington Capitals in 2004.

Skjei, the Rangers’ first-round selection, said he looked forward to skating under coach John Tortorella.

“I have seen Tortorella on film and I like the way he coaches,” Skjei said. “He demands a lot and I’m a hard worker, so it’s good.”

Islanders’ Pick

The New York Islanders, picking in the No. 4 spot, chose defenseman Griffin Reinhart of Edmonton in the Western Hockey League. Reinhart is the son of former NHL defenseman Paul Reinhart.

The Devils selected Stefan Matteau from the U.S. under-18 team as the 29th overall pick. His father, Stephane, was playing for the Rangers when he scored in overtime of Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference finals to beat the Devils.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, who got the eighth pick when they traded Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes, took defenseman Derrick Pouliot, 18, who had 11 goals and 48 assists for the Portland Winterhawks last season.

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