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Panthers Tap Barkov In NHL Draft

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(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSMiami/AP) — Center Aleksander Barkov, the top-ranked European skater, is going to the Florida Panthers in the second overall pick of the NHL draft.

The first pick, center Nathan MacKinnon, was tapped by the Colorado Avalanche.

Colorado executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic made the announcement Sunday at the Prudential Center. The 17-year-old MacKinnon, a 6-foot, 182-pound center, is a solid two-way presence with strong hands and stick-handling and skating skills. He is considered a natural scorer and a very good puck distributor.

The Avalanche won the draft lottery for the first time in team history and had made it clear that MacKinnon was going to be their top pick.

Tampa Bay took forward Jonathan Drouin, also out of Halifax, with the third overall pick.

The Nashville Predators pounced on defenseman Seth Jones with the fourth overall pick. Jones, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound defenseman, was widely considered the top prospect in the draft. He was the top-ranked player on the NHL Central Scouting’s final list of North American skaters.

He is the son of former NBA forward Popeye Jones. Popeye Jones paced the floor of the Prudential Center and said Seth slept great and was calm in the final hours leading up to the draft.

But that had to change just a bit when Jones, who played for Portland of the Western Hockey League last season, slipped to fourth.

Carolina selected Elias Lindholm, who played in Sweden, fifth and the Calgary Flames followed with center Sean Monahan from Ottawa of the Ontario Hockey League.

After picking first the last three years, the Edmonton Oilers took defenseman Darnell Nurse, of Saulte Ste. Marie in the OHL, with the seventh choice. Nurse is the nephew of former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. McNabb posted a picture on Twitter of the two of them smiling together a couple of hours before the draft.

The NHL had two black players picked in the top seven with Jones and Nurse.

The Buffalo Sabres took Finnish defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen with the eighth overall pick.

The New Jersey Devils and the Prudential Center are hosting the draft for the first time. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was drowned out by boos each time he took the podium. But he finally heard cheers when he announced the Devils were on the clock. It became louder when Bettman announced the Devils traded the ninth pick to Vancouver for Schneider.

“I think you guys are gonna want to hear this,” Bettman said.

Schneider was on the market once the Canucks were unable to dump high-priced goalie Roberto Luongo.

The Canucks then selected center Bo Horvat, of London (OHL), with the ninth pick. The Dallas Stars selected forward Valeri Nichushkin, of Russia, with the 10th pick.

Jones, who lived in Colorado as a youth and seemed a perfect fit for the Avalanche, has ties to Tennessee, as well. Popeye Jones owns a house there, and there is still family throughout the state.

“It’s a perfect spot for him,” Popeye Jones said, proudly. “He’ll be motivated there, and ready to go.”

The New Jersey Devils and the Prudential Center are hosting the draft for the first time.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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