It was a big night for some big names in Western Canadian hockey.
A total of five WHL players were taken in the first round of the 2011 NHL entry draft, including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins going first overall to Edmonton.
Last year, seven players were taken in round one, with five also being taken in 2009's first round.
As mentioned, the Oilers didn't shock anybody by taking the Red Deer Rebels centre first overall. Nugent-Hopkins was recognized as the consensus number one player on almost all draft boards and he should fit into their system nicely going forward.
Duncan Siemens was the next WHLer off the board as the Colorado Avalanche took the big Saskatoon Blades blueliner at 11th overall. I would like to apologize to my neighbours, because I am a huge Avalanche fan as well as the Blades colour man. I jumped off my couch screaming and yelling when Siemens name was called.
Sven Bartschi was next off the board as the Calgary Flames took the scoring winger 13th overall. I like the player, but I am not a huge fan of who the Flames passed on to grab Bartschi. I think a guy like Mark McNeill would have fit their club alot more.
Speaking of McNeill, he was chosen 18th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks. The PA Raiders centre is a man child and slid a bit in the draft, but will be through the roof with the result. The Raiders list the Blackhawks as McNeill's favorite team, so that's great to see.
Finally, the Pittsburgh Penguins nabbed Joe Morrow of Portland at 23rd overall. He's got solid size and skates almost as good as any defenseman in the WHL. It's a good value pick for them and he should make a solid top 4 defenseman on Sidney Crosby's club.
Overall it was a nice night for the WHL, but I expect more fireworks tomorrow morning when rounds 2-7 get underway. A large number of WHLers are still waiting to have their names called.