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Columbus curveball at No. 3, U.S. record highlight first round

It only took until the third pick for the NHL Draft to get thrown a curveball.

Toronto picked Auston Matthews, and Winnipeg selected Patrik Laine, so far, right on schedule. But Columbus passed on Finnish forward Jesse Puljujarvi and instead chose Pierre-Luc Dubois from Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

“I gained 40 pounds the past two years,” Dubois said. “I think my ceiling and my potential is still far away. … Now everyone is talking about the Finns and Matthews 1-2-3, but in the next couple years, I’ll be in that discussion, too.”

Dubois is a 6-foot, 3-inch left wing who scored 42 goals and 99 points in 62 games in the scoring-friendly league. He’s a strong two-way player who has an edge to his game. He is Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American skater because Matthews is registered as a European due to playing in Switzerland.

“I started listening after the second pick, so I was pretty surprised,” Dubois said.

The move pushed Puljujarvi down to the Edmonton Oilers at No. 4, as general manager Peter Chiarelli was able to add to his dangerous arsenal of forwards. Although Puljujarvi looked a bit stunned when his name wasn’t called at No. 3, Edmonton is far from the worst-case scenario for any forward. He could get the chance to skate alongside last year’s first overall pick, Connor McDavid.

“Maybe,” Puljujarvi said. “I’d like to play with him. It’s very nice.”

Puljujarvi scored 13 goals and 28 points in 50 games with Karpat in the Finnish Liiga and five goals and 17 points at the World Junior Championship for Finland. He was named the tournament’s MVP and top forward and was made part of the All-Tournament team.

The 6-foot-3-inch winger was slotted third in the draft by nearly every ranking system and expert. If he was upset by sliding one pick, he didn’t show it.

“I like Edmonton,” Puljujarvi said. “I’m pretty excited to go there. I’m happy now.”

Chychrun drops

Defenseman Jakob Chychrun heard his name called at No. 16 by the Arizona Coyotes.

The Boca Raton, Fla., native saw his stock drop as the evening progressed. Considered a possible selection for the Sabres at No. 8, Chychrun was ranked fourth among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting and ranked him the top defenseman in the draft.

Arizona traded up from No. 20 to No. 16 to draft Chychrun.

“There was a lot of anticipation, a lot of stress, lots of thinking, especially last night,” Chychrun said on NBCSN. “I couldn’t be happier to join Arizona. I circled them on my list. When a team trades up to get you, that means they really want you. It’s real special for me and my family.’’

There were 12 American-born players drafted in the first round – a new record according to USA Hockey.

The U.S. players drafted were:

Matthews (No. 1, Toronto), Matthew Tkachuk (No. 6, Calgary), Clayton Keller (No. 7, Arizona), Logan Brown (No. 11, Ottawa), Charles McAvoy (No. 14, Boston), Luke Kunin (No. 15, Minnesota), Chychrun (No. 16, Arizona), Kieffer Bellows (No. 19 New York Islanders), Max Jones (No. 24, Anaheim), Riley Tufte (No. 25, Dallas), Tage Thompson (No. 26, St. Louis), and Trent Frederic (No. 29, Boston).

Cheers for Lindy

When the Dallas Stars stepped to the podium to make their first-round pick, former Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff stepped to the podium to make the selection. He was greeted with a strong round of cheers from the fans – the only out-of-town guest to receive a warm welcome from the First Niagara Center faithful.

Trade craze

Trades began coming in after the first pick. It started when Montreal traded forward Lars Eller to Washington for second round picks in 2017 and 2018. Then Chicago traded forward Andrew Shaw to Montreal for two second-round picks.

Later in the round, the St. Louis Blues traded goaltender Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a second-round pick in 2016 (35th overall) and a conditional third round pick in 2018.

Then New Jersey and Ottawa essentially swapped the No. 11 and No. 12 pick with the Sens picking Logan Brown while the Devils selected Michael McLeod and also received a third-round pick.

The Detroit Red Wings were on the clock at No. 16 when they announced a trade, sending that pick and Pavel Datsyuk (and most importantly for the Red Wings, Datsyuk’s contract) to Arizona for Joe Vitale, the No. 20 pick and a second-round pick (53).

The rest of the trades were spot swaps.

Philadelphia traded its No. 18 and a third-round pick (79) to Winnipeg for the No. 22 pick and a second-round pick (36).

Washington traded No. 26 to St. Louis for No. 28 and a third-round pick (87).

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