The Nashville Predators got a first in the 2011 NHL draft after all.
General Manager David Poile did not swing a deal to get a first-round draft pick, but with the eighth pick of the second round (38th overall) Saturday he and his staff were the first to take a goalie.
Magnus Hellberg, a 20-year-old out of Sweden, will draw immediate comparisons to Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback because of his size.
The Predators then added Finish forward Miika Salomaki with the second of their two second-round choices (52nd overall).
It is the first time Nashville’s first two selections in a single draft were European prospects.
Hellberg is 6-foot-5, 185 pounds. In 31 games last season with Almtuna in Sweden’s second division, he had a .935 save percentage and a 2.04 goals-against average. The NHL's Central Scouting Sevice ranked him second among European netminder prospects in this draft.
The pick was orginially New Jersey’s. Nashville acquired it last offseason in the trade that sent Jason Arnott to the Devils.
Salomaki, taken with Nashville's regular second-round choice, is a 5-foot-11, 198-pound right wing who had 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 40 games for Karpat in Finland's top division.
The rest of the Predators’ 2011 draft class:
• Fourth round (94th overall): Josh Shalla, LW, Saginaw Spirit (OHL). Scored a franchise record 47 goals (fifth overall in the OHL) during the regular season and added eight more in 12 playoff games.
• Fourth round (112th overall): Garrett Noonan, D. Boston University. A 20-year-old who is expected to play at least one more year in college, where he will have a major role for his team.
• Fifth round (142nd overall): Simon Karlsson, D, Malmo Jr. (Sweden). A smart defenseman who can pass and skate. The hope is that he can improve any team’s power play.
• Sixth round (170nd overall): Chase Balisy, C, Western Michigan. A freshman All-American this past season (12 goals, 18 assists) and from the same hometown as Predators defenseman Jonathon Blum.
• Seventh round (202nd overall): Brent Andrews, LW, Halifax, (QMJHL). A rugged forward who projects into a defensive specialist.