Game 105
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NEW ORLEANS - The 2015 XHL Entry Draft was held last night at the New Orleans Arena, home to the New Orleans Rebels, and those who were looking for a few surprises early on in the draft may have gone home disappointed. But one team that went home extremely happy with how the evening went was the Anaheim Ducks.

After several months of waiting, the Ducks were finally able to dress first overall pick Connor McDavid in one of their jerseys as they selected the highly-touted prospect first overall to the surprise of nobody.

"I'm definitely excited about coming to Anaheim," said McDavid. "I know this team is in a bit of a rebuild, which means that a lot of the younger players and myself will all be growing together. It won't always be easy at times, but it's a good learning experience, and it will be pretty great to be able to call Southern California home."

And speaking of Southern California, the team about an hour north of the Ducks, the newly-named Los Angeles Kings, went second and grabbed the other highly-touted prospect of this draft, Boston University center Jack Eichel.

"It's very exciting to join a team with this much talent," said Eichel. "I know it won't be easy to get on the ice for a while with all of the great players here, but I'll do my best and hopefully I'll get a chance."

When asked if he is looking forward to a future rivalry with McDavid in the "Battle of Southern California," Eichel stated that he has great respect for McDavid and that it should be fun to compete against such a talented player for the next several years.

After the top two, Brooklyn took to the podium for their unprecedented four straight early first-round selections. GM Stephen Crociata blasted out all four picks within seconds, choosing C Dylan Strome third, followed by defensemen Noah Hanifin and Ivan Provorov, along with winger Mikko Rantanen.

"It's kind of fun getting to see all of these players coming with you, knowing that we'll all be teammates for the next few years," said Strome. "I'm definitely looking forward to getting out on the ice with these guys."

The San Francisco Seals, who are moving across the bay from Oakland for this season, would then come up next, and under new GM Harsh Singh, they got a bit of a steal at seventh overall by grabbing winger Mitch Marner from London of the OHL.

"You never like to drop down the order in the draft," said Marner, "But things happen for a reason, and I'm looking forward to going to San Francisco."

Next was Toronto, making their first draft pick under new GM Leigh Hine, and they selected winger Timo Meier from Halifax of the QMJHL. After Los Angeles took Pavel Zacha and Edmonton grabbed winger Lawson Crouse, it was time for the hometown New Orleans Rebels to make their choice.

The Rebels took the podium to a roaring ovation from their hometown fans. Once the cheering subsided and they made their pick, University of Michigan defenseman Zach Werenski, the cheering picked up even more as the hometown fans voiced their approval of the selection.

After Philadelphia took Travis Konecky, the newly-moved Denver XHL team, formerly the St. Louis Smugglers, made their first pick under new GM David McGill as they selected winger Denis Guryanov from the KHL.

Rounding out the new GMs making their first selections was the new GM of the newly-renamed Chicago Blackhawks, Andrew Wallach. And Wallach was busy on this day, trading for several picks along with starting his night by selecting center Colin White 18th overall.

Closing out the first round, the XHL Cup runner-up Vancouver Canucks selected center Joel Eriksson Ek 23rd overall, followed by the defending XHL Cup champion Las Vegas Sharks closing out the first round by taking the first goalie of the draft, Ilya Samsonov's 24th overall.

The draft, said by many to be one of the deepest in recent memory, will provide the XHL with some top-notch young talent going forward, as teams begin to next turn their eyes towards free agency, which will take place in November.


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