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DALLAS—The four Canadian teams with top-10 picks in NHL draft on Friday night went in different directions:
Montreal selected forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi with the No. 3 pick. The 17-year-old left-handed shooter from Pori, Finland produced 10 goals and 29 points in 57 regular-season games with Assat of the Finnish Elite League in 2017-18 while adding nine points in six games to lead his country to gold at the 2018 IIHF under-18 world championship.
Kotkaniemi was seen as a late first-round pick last summer but jumped to No. 6 on the NHL Central Scouting Bureau’s list of European skaters after being listed at No. 9 at the midpoint of the season.
Canadiens head coach Claude Julien met with media earlier Friday and expressed his eagerness to have Domi in the lineup in the fall.
“At the end of the day we’re trying to build a team that has an image and has an identity. What we liked about Max is first of all he’s a good hockey player. He’s got skill. I think his skill level certainly still has room to grow. He’s also a guy that’s excited to be in Montreal, wants to be in a hockey market, and has a lot of character (and) grit in his game,” Julien said. “We’re excited to have him on board.”
Domi had been seen as a cornerstone as the Coyotes try to turn the corner back into a playoff team. The 23-year-old forward was one of the NHL’s best rookies after Arizona selected him with the 12th overall pick in 2013, scoring 18 goals with 34 assists in 2015-16.
Domi struggled with injuries his sophomore season and got off to a slow start this past season before finishing with nine goals and 36 assists.
Montreal sent forward Alex Galchenyuk to Arizona for Domi.
At No. 4, Ottawa went with winger Brady Tkachuk. The 18-year-old winger from Scottsdale, Ariz., had eight goals and 23 assists in 40 games during his freshman 2017-18 season at Boston University, helping the school to a Hockey East title while being named to the all-rookie team.
“I’m super happy right now and super excited to celebrate this with my family and friends,” Tkachuk said.
The Senators also had the 22nd pick, but traded it to the New York Rangers for the No. 26 selection as well as the No. 48 overall pick in the second round on Saturday.
Tkachuk, the NHL Central Scouting Bureau’s No. 2-ranked North American skater, added three goals and six assists to finish fifth in tournament scoring at the 2018 world junior hockey championship for the United States, which won bronze on home soil.
The six-foot-three, 192-pound forward is the son of former NHLer Keith Tkachuk and the brother of current Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk.
Brady Tkachuk, who is still growing, has both physical and playmaking components to his skill set, much like his father and brother. He was impressed with the organization during his visit to Ottawa.
“They’re run by great management. There’s great facilities. I was super happy leaving there, and that was definitely a spot I wanted to go to.”
Keith Tkachuk, the 19th pick in 1990, scored 538 goals and added 527 assists in 1,201 games over 19 NHL seasons with the Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues and Atlanta Thrashers.
Matthew Tkachuk, 20, is set to enter his third season with Calgary. The sixth pick in 2016 has 37 goals and 60 assists in 144 career games.
Picking seventh, Vancouver chose defenceman Quinn Hughes. The 18-year-old from Orlando shoots left and had five goals and 29 points in 37 games with the University of Michigan in 2017-18 and was named to the Big 10 all-rookie team, as well as a second-team all star.
Hughes, the No. 6-ranked North American skater by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau, also won a bronze medal in the 2018 world junior championships with the United States.
“I’m excited. I obviously knew Vancouver would be right around my spot,” Hughes said.
“It’s a great hockey market and they’ve got a lot of young talent coming up.”
Before joining Michigan, Hughes played two seasons with the United States National Team Development Program.
The five-foot-10, 173-pound blueliner is the son of Jim Hughes, who was a Boston Bruins assistant coach from 2001 to 2003 before eventually taking various roles with the Toronto Maple Leafs organization between 2006 and 2015. His younger brother, Jack, is currently part of the USNTDP and is expected to go high in the 2019 NHL draft.
At No. 10, Edmonton went for defenceman Evan Bouchard. The 18-year-old from Oakville led all Ontario Hockey League blue liners with 87 points (25 goals and 62 assists) in 67 games for the London Knights in 2017-18.
That was also good enough for eighth overall in the OHL scoring race.
The six-foot-two, 196-pound Bouchard was London’s captain this season, and won the league title as an OHL rookie in 2015-16 alongside current NHLers Mitch Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Christian Dvorak of the Arizona Coyotes, Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames and Victor Mete of the Montreal Canadiens.