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Penguins land teen sensation Crosby

By Associated Press
Published July 31, 2005

OTTAWA - Welcome to the NHL, Sidney Crosby.

As expected, the Penguins took the teenage phenom from Canada with the No. 1 pick Saturday.

"This is amazing," Crosby said. "I'm just really relieved. It's unbelievable. I'm so happy right now."

The arrival of the young superstar, who already has been compared to Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, is just what the NHL needed after the lockout that erased the 2004-05 season. For Crosby, the waiting is finally over.

Crosby, who turns 18 next week, is a 5-foot-11, 193-pound forward with surprising strength and masterful vision on the ice. A prolific scorer, Crosby won nearly every trophy the last two seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The Mighty Ducks picked Bobby Ryan with the No. 2 pick. The rugged forward from Cherry Hill, N.J., had 37 goals and 52 assists for 89 points in 62 OHL games last season.

The Hurricanes drafted third and took Jack Johnson, a defenseman in the U.S. national program who plans to enroll at Michigan.

Ryan and Johnson are the first American duo to go in the top three since 1983, when Brian Lawton went No. 1 to the Minnesota North Stars and Pat LaFontaine was taken third by the Islanders.

The Wild chose fourth and selected left wing Benoit Pouliot. The 6-foot-3 Pouliot had 67 points - including 29 goals - in the OHL last season.

With the fifth pick, the Canadiens took goalie Carey Price, and the Blue Jackets followed by choosing center Gilbert Brule. The Blackhawks took forward Jack Skille at No. 7.

Atlanta swapped the No. 8 spot with San Jose, getting the 12th, 49th and 207th picks from the Sharks. San Jose used the pick on right wing Devin Setoguchi.

Minnesota high school defenseman Brian Lee was selected by the Senators in the ninth spot, and the Canucks took defenseman Luc Bourdon to round out the top 10.

Philadelphia traded the No. 20 pick to Florida for No. 29, plus a second-round choice next year when the draft will be held in Vancouver, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. The Panthers used the pick on forward Kenndal McArdle.

No Russians were taken in the opening round. And that wasn't the only unusual aspect of draft day.

"This is the deadest it's ever been in the history of this," Mighty Ducks general manager Brian Burke said.

The eerie silence of a draft without spectators essentially mirrored the action on the trade front, as GMs focused their efforts on the upcoming free-agent market instead of trying to deal.

That's because there are very few assets to trade. There are more players hitting free agency Monday than there are players under contract.

"Nobody has extra players to move," Flyers GM Bob Clarke said. "In the past there was always extra players in each organization. But now, at least this year, the extra players you had, you tried to buy out or didn't qualify to get the payroll down.

"So I think it was a lot more difficult to make trades."

All 30 teams have holes to fill, but they'll do it mostly through free agency, beginning Monday at noon.

The start has been delayed 12 hours after clubs and agents complained to the league that they wanted more time to prepare and make final decisions on qualifying offers. The league and players' union had to sign off on the change.

BLUE JACKETS: Columbus cut veterans Andrew Cassels and Scott Lachance.

TRADES: The Hurricanes sent forward Jeff O'Neill to the Maple Leafs for a conditional 2006 draft pick. O'Neill had 198 goals and 218 assists in nine seasons with the franchise.

In other moves:

The Senators sent center Todd White to the Wild for the 95th selection in Saturday's draft.

Atlanta acquired rugged defenseman Shane Hnidy from Nashville for a fourth-round pick next year.

Anaheim got left wing Travis Moen from Chicago for right wing Michael Holmqvist.

[Last modified July 31, 2005, 01:32:21]


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