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10 highlights from the first round of the NHL Draft

1. Pegula’s address

Sabres owner Terry Pegula opened the draft ceremonies with an address to the crowd, making Toronto Maple Leafs fans in attendance wait a few extra minutes for Auston Matthews. He welcomed visitors to Buffalo and gave the players a few words of advice. He also let visiting teams know if they have any problems, “just call my wife.”

2. Booing Bettman

It was no surprise that the commissioner faced his fair share of booing from the draft crowd. It’s somewhat become a yearly tradition, and Gary Bettman has taken a page out of former NBA commissioner David Stern’s book and taken the treatment in stride.

However, today’s boo fest lasted a bit longer than usual, only ending once Bettman said a few nice words about the city of Buffalo.

3. Combine is sticking around

Bettman dropped some news during his introduction, announcing that the NHL Draft Combine will be returning to Buffalo for another year. The event has been held at the HarborCenter and First Niagara Center the past two years. The extension is not a surprise, since the event has gotten rave reviews from players and other teams' executives.

Auston Matthews is chosen as the 1st pick in the NHL draft at the First Niagara Center on Friday, June 24, 2016. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

Auston Matthews tries on his Toronto jersey after being picked first in the NHL Draft. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

4. Auston goes No. 1

The boos a few minutes later when the Maple Leafs went on the clock were a bit louder than expected considering all the Toronto fans in attendance. Once Auston Matthews was selected first overall the cheering increased. The Arizona native is Toronto’s first top selection since Wendel Clark in 1985.

Matthews spent this year in Switzerland, scoring 24 goals and 46 points in 36 games with the ZSC Lions of the National League.

5. A change in the plans

The top three seemed like a lock. Auston Matthews would go first overall to Toronto, with Patrik Laine to Winnipeg and Jesse Puljujarvi to Columbus.

The Blue Jackets threw a wrench into that plan, selecting Cape Brenton forward Pierre-Luc Dubois instead. Puljujarvi fell to Edmonton at No. 4.

Dubois is the No. 1 ranked North American skater according to Central Scouting. He scored 42 goals and 99 assists in 62 games with the Screaming Eagles.

6. Davidson’s somber announcement

Before the Blue Jackets selected Dubois, president of hockey operations John Davidson announced minority owner John Wolfe died Friday at 72. Davidson called him “a giant supporter” of the team.

7. Four More Words

If we learned anything from last year’s draft, it’s that Tim Murray is a man of few words when he steps up to the podium. Once again he only needed two, “Buffalo selects,” before naming Alex Nylander as the Sabres’ 2016 first-round pick.

Alexander Nylander walks to the stage to pleased Sabres fans after he was chosen by Buffalo as the eighth pick in the NHL Draft. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

Alexander Nylander walks to the stage to pleased Sabres fans after he was chosen by Buffalo as the eighth pick in the NHL Draft. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

8. Nylander’s crowd reaction

Not surprisingly, Sabres fans were loud after Murray’s announcement, as they likely would have cheered for whoever the team drafted. He's another cog in the reignited Sabres/Maple Leafs rivalry. His brother William Nylander is a promising prospect with Toronto.

Nylander is a playmaking winger who scored scored 28 goals and 75 points in 57 games with the Mississauga Steelheads this season. Since he was sent to the OHL on loan the Sabres have plenty of options for him next year. He could play in Buffalo, with Rochester, back in the OHL or overseas.

Nylander is the first Sabre to be drafted in the first round on home turf since Dmitri Kalinin in 1998.

9. Lindy makes the Stars pick

Fans saw a familiar face when Stars general manager Jim Nill deferred Dallas’ announcement to head coach Lindy Ruff. The former Sabres head coach was met with plenty of applause from the fans who stuck around for the last five picks of the night. The Stars selected Riley Tufte, a Minnesota high schooler, with the pick.

10. Trades

One of the main draws of the NHL Draft every year as the multitude of roster moves that usually come with it. Although it was a big quiet when it comes to trades that include roster players, there were a few of note. Chicago sent Andrew Shaw to the Canadiens for two second-round picks, a surprising move after the Blackhawks already traded Teuvo Teravainen and Brian Bickell to Carolina to clear cap space. St. Louis traded Lars Eller to Washington for second-round picks in 2017 and 2018 and Brian Elliott to Calgary for a second-round pick and a conditional third.

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