- Associated Press - Saturday, June 25, 2011

ST. PAUL, MINN. (AP) - Minnesota is home to a multitude of Scandinavian descendants, particularly Sweden.

So this was the perfect place for Swedes to dominate the NHL draft.

For the first time in league history, four players born in Sweden were among the top 10 selections. There were a record-tying six Swedes taken in the first round Friday night, matching the totals from 1993 and 2009.

“It’s really cool,” said defenseman Jonas Brodin, who went to the hometown Wild with the 10th pick.

Left wing Gabriel Landeskog was selected second by the Colorado Avalanche. Defenseman Adam Larsson went fourth to the New Jersey Devils. Mika Zibanejad was taken with the sixth pick by the Ottawa Senators.

“I know those guys. They’re really good guys. It’s very good for Sweden,” Brodin said.

The seven top-10 picks from Sweden in the last three years matches the number of top-10 Swedes over the 23 years before that. Clearly, the talent pool in the northern European hockey hotbed is continuing to grow.

Half of the 30 first-rounders hail from Canada, including the first pick by the Edmonton Oilers, center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Western Hockey League. Five of them are Americans, with one each from Denmark, Finland, Russia and Switzerland.

Zibanejad, if he makes the team, will join a couple of Swedes on the Senators roster, including captain Daniel Alfredsson.

“I think being a part of the team with the Swedes is helping a lot,” Zibanejad said. “I think I can take that as an advantage, for sure.”

Landeskog had 36 goals in 53 games last season for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. Larsson played two full seasons for Skelleftea and was the third blue-liner in Swedish Elite League history to make his debut at age 16. Zibanejad _ born in Stockholm to a Finnish mother and an Iranian father _ played for Djurgarden. Brodin played for Farjestad.

The remaining rounds, two through seven, will take place on Saturday. There were a handful of trades that headlined the first day, too.

The Senators added a third first-rounder, acquiring No. 24 from the Detroit Red Wings for a pair of second-round picks. The Anaheim Ducks moved down from No. 22 to No. 30, acquiring a second-round pick from Toronto.

The Maple Leafs added defenseman John-Michael Liles from the Avalanche for a second-round pick in 2012, and the Blackhawks gained a second first-round selection, No. 26, from the Washington Capitals for left wing Troy Brouwer.

“We’re trying to improve our team, and there are going to be changes made when you don’t reach your ultimate goal,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. “You need to look to get better, and we’re trying to do that building from within as well as acquiring new players.”

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