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Swedes, centers dominate top of NHL draft
He added: “It’s not the worst thing to go into the season with salary-cap room.”
The biggest deal, though, involved the hometown team.
The Wild traded All-Star defenseman Brent Burns and their second-round pick in 2012 to San Jose, receiving a first-round pick from the Sharks, No. 28, and a pair of forwards, Devin Setoguchi and Charlie Coyle.
The Wild have missed the playoffs for three straight years, and general manager Chuck Fletcher spoke of the need to “aggressively” add young players to keep up with the rest of the league.
“We added the equivalent of four first-round picks,” Fletcher said. “We gave up a very important piece in Brent Burns, but our timeframe needs to be stretched back a bit and we need to add more young players. We very quickly assembled a lot of young talent.”
Nugent-Hopkins was the first to go Friday night, starting a run of centers with six of the first eight selections. The first WHL player to be drafted first since 1996, he led the league with 75 assists last season for the Red Deer Rebels.
“He was so great to talk to. Everything looks good right now,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “He just said, ‘Enjoy this whole experience. You’re going to be nervous and stuff, but try to enjoy it as much as you can.’”
As for their chemistry?
“I guess we’ll never know until we get on the ice together, but hopefully we do. I can see it working,” Nugent-Hopkins said.
To get there, Nugent-Hopkins has to bulk up. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 164 pounds, he said this week he’s added 10 pounds to that total since the end of his junior season and plans to pack on five more.
“Steak and potatoes, mostly,” he said when asked about his diet. “Just trying to put some weight on.”
Nugent-Hopkins said he’s heard general manager Steve Tambellini is in “no rush” to bring him to Edmonton.
By Tammy Bruce
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