Pittsburgh, PA – The Canadian Hockey League today announced that 18 CHL players were selected in the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA, on Friday night.
The 18 CHL players marks the fourth highest league total over the last 15 years following the record 21 CHL players chosen in 2011, and 20 CHL players picked in both the 2008 and 1998 drafts.
The Ontario Hockey League led the way with 11 players selected which matches 2011 and 2008 as their most successful first rounds in modern draft history with Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting chosen first overall. The Western Hockey League had six players selected including five of the first eight picks, which they last accomplished back in 1995, led this season by defenceman Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips chosen second overall. Mikhail Grigorenko of the Quebec Remparts was the only current member of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey chosen in the first round at number 12, however Stefan Matteau who is a future member of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada committed for the 2012-13 season was selected at number 29.
Yakupov became the sixth straight CHL player to be selected first overall when he was chosen by the Edmonton Oilers following Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels and Taylor Hall of the Windsor Spitfires who were also picked by the Oilers each of the last two seasons, John Tavares of the London Knights chosen first overall by the New York Islanders in 2009, the Sting’s Steven Stamkos chosen first overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2008, and the Knights’ Patrick Kane chosen first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks back in 2007.
“I was nervous before but now I’m pretty excited," Yakupov said. "I just want to work harder and make the team. It's amazing, Steven first from Sarnia and then me I think it's big for the organization. It was great years in Sarnia, it changed my life and changed my hockey."
Alex Galchenyuk was the second member of the Sting picked in the first round chosen third overall by the Montreal Canadiens. This marks the first time since the Sedin twins in 1999 where two players from the same club were drafted within the top three picks, and the first time this occurred in the CHL since Wilf Paiement and Richard Hampton of the St. Catharines Black Hawks went second and third overall in 1974.
“I didn’t know I was coming here for sure but I spent time in Montreal and went to dinner and I knew there was a possibility but right now I‘m just really excited for it," Galchenyuk said. "I can't thank them (the Sting) enough, they developed me as a player and a person."
Slater Koekkoek became the fifth straight player from the Peterborough Petes following Matt Puempel, Austin Watson, Zack Kassian, and Zach Bogosian to be selected in the first round when he was chosen tenth overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"Peterborough is a great spot for anybody to grow up and play junior hockey," Koekkoek said. "I thank them for everything they've done for me, getting me to this next level and I definitely owe them quite a bit."
Radek Faksa became the third straight forward from the Kitchener Rangers to be selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft following Gabriel Landeskog and Jeff Skinner when he was picked at number 13 by the Dallas Stars.
"I can't wait for the day when I will play for the Dallas Stars," said Faksa. "It was a great experience, in Kitchener they have great fans and we have great coaches and a great group of guys. I learned a lot from (Michael) Catenacci and how a leader works."
Cody Ceci was selected by his hometown Ottawa Senators 15th overall and joins fellow 67 Shane Prince who was a second round pick of the club last year. Ceci is also the first Ottawa 67's defenceman since Tyler Cuma in 2008 to be selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft.
"I have to give a lot of credit to Chris Byrne, he's been huge for me giving me every opportunity in the world," Ceci said. "It’s pretty hard to believe, just getting drafted to play major junior there was pretty crazy for me and my family. Every kid wants to play in their hometown for major junior and just getting an opportunity to try out for your hometown NHL team is something else."
Tom Wilson is the fourth member of the Plymouth Whalers in three years to be selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft following teammates Stefan Noesen and Rickard Rakell in 2011, and second overall pick Tyler Seguin in 2010.
"Plymouth is an amazing organization, they turn out pros, a lot of first round picks" Wilson said. "Mike Vellucci is a great coach and brings out the best of his players."
Scott Laughton was selected 20th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers and follows teammate Nicklas Jensen as the second straight member of the Oshawa Generals to be selected in the first round of the draft.
"It's pretty surreal and so honoured to be picked by the Flyers, such a great organization," Laughton said. "We have some of the best talent in the world right now (on the Generals) and we have a lot of guys I like to look up to on this team that went through this last year."
Olli Maatta became the first defenceman selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft as a member of the London Knights since Nick Stajduhar in 1993. As the 22nd overall pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Maatta joins teammate Scott Harrington who was a second round pick last season in the Pens system.
"We were making jokes about it like last year and it actually happened now, it would be fun to play with him," Maatta said of Harrington. "I have to thank them (Mark and Dale Hunter) a lot. Every day they talk about what it takes to make it to the NHL and what kind of players they want there."
Malcolm Subban of the Belleville Bulls was one of two goalies chosen in the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft when he was picked 24th overall by the Boston Bruins.
"I’ve worked so hard just to come from the OHL to get here and to get a shot to get noticed," Subban said. "I couldn’t be happier right now, it's a great day for Belleville, I can't thank them enough, the coaching staff there it's a great group of guys."
Brendan Gaunce was the second member of the Bulls to be selected in the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft picked 26th overall by the Vancouver Canucks. Along with Subban they become the first Bulls to be picked in the first round since Branislav Mezei in 1999.
"The draft is the thing that you always watched when you were a younger kid and to go to a Canadian team is something special," Gaunce said. "Going into Belleville they've had some great teams in the past and they know how to develop players and I was lucky enough to go to them and they've helped me develop as a player and a person and I can't thank them enough."
Tanner Pearson of the Barrie Colts wrapped up the first round going 30th overall to the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings where he will reunited with former Colts teammate Kyle Clifford.
"It's an unbelievable feeling for sure, being passed over as many times as I was it's a great day for me and my family," Pearson said. "I was always pushing towards the OHL, but just to have a coach like Dale Hawerchuk you see why he is a Hall of Famer."
OHL Players Selected in the First Round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft:
Click on a player above to watch an individual video interview from the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh.