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No surprises as Hall goes first to Oilers Expected trades fail to materialize

The NHL draft usually has its surprising moments, whether it's a kid plummeting down the draft board or teams trading their future selections for a present fix. The first round of the 2010 entry process Friday had its surprises in the form of few trades when many were predicted.

There was no surprise at the start, though, as Taylor Hall assumed his role as the No. 1 pick.

A large contingent of Edmonton Oilers fans flocked to L.A. to see their team make the first overall selection, and the Oilers didn't disappoint them. A standing ovation accompanied the announcement of Hall, the Windsor Spitfires forward who was expected to go first.

"That's something I worked for all year," he said. "I really pushed myself on and off the ice, and this is just a tremendous moment. I'm just honored."

The two-time Memorial Cup winner and playoff Most Valuable Player hugged his friends and family as the fans in Oilers jerseys chanted, "Hall, Hall, Hall."

"I was so shocked," Hall said. "I was shaking in my seat. I went up to the podium and I was shaking so much I couldn't even put my jersey on.

"They said 'Windsor Spitfires,' and it was all a blur from there."

The 18-year-old from Kingston, Ont., knows he's going to a struggling organization, obvious by the fact it picked first. But he's embracing the chance to return the former perennial contenders to their glory days of the 1980s.

"Hopefully, I can make that team next year," Hall said. "That's my first step. We can really recreate some of the magic there, I think. We're going to have a young team, and that's something I'm really looking forward to."

Rumors swirled that Boston, which held the second selection, made a play for the top choice. The Bruins are stacked at center and could use a winger of Hall's skill. No deal was consummated, however, and the Bruins went with the draft's obvious No. 2 talent -- center Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers.

Seguin joins a team that dispatched the Buffalo Sabres in the first round of the playoffs.

"It definitely feels great," Seguin said. "Right now my focus is to have an incredible offseason, put on some weight and do better in the things I have to do with Boston to improve my game. Hopefully, I can come in next year and be a player, whether it's center or right wing."

The first eight selections were North American skaters, including seven forwards. Minnesota selected the first European at No. 9, grabbing top-rated foreigner Mikael Granlund of Finland.

The biggest trade of what was expected to be a more active deal day involved a pair of former Sabres. The Florida Panthers continued hoarding picks, trading defenseman Keith Ballard and forward prospect Victor Oreskovich to the Vancouver for wingers Steve Bernier and Michael Grabner and the Canucks' first-round pick, 25th overall.

"There were a lot of conversations over the last few days about players being moved, and it didn't happen," Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said. "Maybe the ask price was too high. Teams in some cases were looking for first-round picks for players that everyone knows they're either in a cap situation, they're in a tough spot, and I think it's good they didn't get off the hook by collecting a bunch of first-round picks."

Florida, which selected big defenseman Erik Gudbranson with the third pick, had five of the first 36 picks after acquiring Vancouver's selection. They also dealt the 15th overall pick to Los Angeles for the 19th selection and the 59th overall pick.

"I feel this is a team that's going in the right direction, so there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to be here," said Gudbranson, a 6-foot-4 blue-liner from Kingston.

The locals gave a loud cheer to Emerson Etam, a Long Beach native who went to Anaheim with the 29th pick.

The Blackhawks traded the 30th selection to the New York Islanders for two second-rounders.

The teams return to the arena this morning to conduct rounds two through seven.

e-mail: jvogl@buffnews.com

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