Alex Galchenyuk, Jacob Trouba and Jordan Schmaltz highlighted six American-born players selected during the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft Friday night at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Galchenyuk was the first American off the board after the Montreal Canadiens selected him with the third overall pick.
The Milwaukee, Wis. native spent most of his life playing oversees in Europe due to his father's own playing career, but Alex Jr. spent the last two years playing for Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League. After posting a phenomenal 31 goals and 52 assists during his rookie year, the six-foot center missed all but two regular season and six postseason games this season after tearing his ACL in the Sting's second to final preseason game.
The other Americans selected on Friday night were as followed: Trouba (No. 9 Winnipeg), Jordan Schmaltz (No. 25 St. Louis), Henrik Samuelsson (No. 27 Phoenix), Brady Skjei (No. 28 New York Rangers) and Stefan Matteau (No. 29 New Jersey).
Galchenyuk is also the highest drafted American in Montreal Canadiens' history. The previous highest American drafted by Montreal was when the franchise selected Michael Komisarek seventh overall in 2001.
"I was in my own zone walking down the stairs and up to the stage," Galchenyuk wrote on his NHL.com blog. "It was just an unbelievable feeling. My heart was racing. I think the Commissioner said something to me, probably something like welcome to the NHL and good job, but I don't really remember -- I was too excited."
"Pulling that jersey over my head was unbelievable," he added. "They have the most tradition of any team in the NHL, they have the most Stanley Cups."
Trouba, ranked as the top American defensemen by NHL Central Scouting, was the first U.S. blue liner taken Friday night at nine overall by the Winnipeg Jets. Trouba, a Rochester, MI. native had nine goals and 22 assists with the National Team Development Program.
"I know they were pretty excited last year to get a team back," Trouba told the Canadian Press about the Winnipeg fans. "They're a great hockey city and have been in the past...I'm excited to be a Jet."
The 6-foot-2, 193-pound defensemen will play at Michigan in the fall and has developed into a two-way defenseman similar to Adam Foote. Yet, he knows he still has work to do to acheive his ultimate goal.
"You've got to realize that it's only the first step," Trouba said. "You're not really accomplishing anything getting drafted by Winnipeg. My goal is to play in the NHL and play in Winnipeg."
At pick No. 25, the St. Louis Blues drafted the Madison, Wis. native Schmaltz. The defensemen was the first player since the 1994-95 season to be named to the All-USHL First Team in consecutive seasons after notching 10 goals and 31 assists in 55 games between the Green Bay Gamblers and the Sioux City Musketeers.
"It's awesome. I can't really explain," Schmaltz said. "It's just a great feeling to hear your named called. It's pretty surreal."
Samuelsson, Skjei and Matteau went back-to-back-to-back at picks 27-29 respectively.
Samuelsson, born in Scottsdale, returns home to Arizona with the Phoenix Coyotes after posting seven goals and 16 assists for Edmonton of the Western Hockey League. In 2010-11 the center played in 27 games for the United States U-17 squad.
The right wing's father, Ulf, was drafted 67th overall in 1982 by Hartford and went on to play in 1,080 NHL games for five teams and Henrik's brother Philip was drafted 61st overall in 2009 by Pittsburgh and played most of the 2011-12 season in the AHL for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Skjei joins the Rangers organization after leading the U.S. National Team Development Program to a gold medal at the Under-18 World Championship with a plus-10 rating. He had four goals and 18 assists with his American teammates in the USHL this year.
The 6-foot-3 defenseman plans on playing at the University of Minnesota come the fall.
Matteau, the son of former NHL veteran Stephane Matteau, arrives to the defending Eastern Conference champion Devils with 15 goals and 17 assists in the U.S. National Development Team Program.
The center led the U.S. to a silver medal at the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with six points (2-4-6) in six games.
All six draft picks have been invited to the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp this August in Lake Placid, N.Y.
You can catch the rest of the 2012 NHL draft Saturday, rounds 2-7, on NHL Network starting at 10:00 a.m. ET.
Notebook: Brian Dumoulin was part of a blockbuster draft night trade between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Carolina Hurricanes involving Jordan Staal and Brandon Sutter. Dumoulin heads to Pittsburgh after winning a bronze medal at the 2011 IIHF World Championships. He scored seven goals and notched 21 assists for the Boston College Eagles this year.