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Penguins acquire top pick, select goaltender Fleury

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Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - After obtaining the first-overall pick in the 2003 National Hockey League Entry Draft, the Pittsburgh selected goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles Saturday. To move up and take Fleury, Pittsburgh sent the No. 3 choice, along with young forward and No. 55 overall, to Florida for the No. 1 and 73 selections. The pulled off a similar swap at last year's draft, shipping the top pick to Columbus. Fleury, another Quebec-bred butterfly backstop schooled by Francois Allaire, starred for Cape Breton of the QMJHL this past season, as well as Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. He posted a .910 save- percentage for Cape Breton, and went 4-1-0 with a 1.28 goals-against average to back Canada to a Silver medal at the WJCs. "He's far and away the best goaltender in the draft," general manager Craig Patrick said of Fleury. "We're rebuilding and we wanted a good young goaltender." The 18-year-old netminder is the first goaltender to be taken No. 1 since of the New York in 2000. Fleury is also the first No. 1 overall selection by the Pens since 1984, when they took another Quebec native, . Pittsburgh is coming off back- to-back non-playoff seasons, and has had a less-than stable goaltending situation since was traded away during the 1999-2000 campaign. With the second pick, Carolina selected center Eric Staal from Peterborough of the OHL. Staal scored 39 goals with 59 assists for the Petes this past campaign. A swift playmaker who has the ability to dominate a game, Staal has been compared to captain and future Hall of Famer , who will now be his teammate. Staal was the top-rated North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. At No. 3, Florida took center Nathan Horton of the Oshawa Generals. Horton was the top "power forward" available, standing at 6-2, 201 pounds. He scored 33 goals with 35 assists for the Generals this past season. Columbus took Russian prospect Nikolai Zherdev with the fourth choice. Zherdev was the top-rated European skater by NHL Central Scouting, and has been classified by some as a slightly lesser version of Atlanta star , who was selected No. 1 two years ago. To round out the top five, San Jose drafted Czech right wing Milan Michalek, who many believe to be the most NHL-ready player in the draft. Michalek spent the past two seasons with Budejovice in the Czech Elite League, and represented the Czech Republic in the World Junior Championships. The following is a complete list of players selected in Saturday's first round of the NHL Entry Draft: 1. Pittsburgh, G-Marc-Andre Fleury (Cape Breton); 2. Carolina, C-Eric Staal (Peterborugh); 3. Florida, C-Nathan Horton (Oshawa); 4. Columbus, F-Nikolai Zherdev (HC CSKA); 5. Buffalo, LW-Thomas Vanek (Minnesota); 6. San Jose, RW-Milan Michalek (Budejovice); 7. Nashville, D-Ryan Suter (U.S. U-18); 8. Atlanta, D-Braydon Coburn (Portland); 9. Calgary, D-Dion Phaneuf (Red Deer); 10. Montreal, F-Andrei Kastsitsyn (HC CSKA); 11. Philadelphia, C-Jeff Carter (Sault Ste. Marie); 12. NY , RW-Hugh Jessiman (Dartmouth); 13. Los Angeles, RW-Dustin Brown (Guelph), 14. Chicago, D-Brent Seabrook (Lethbridge); 15. NY , F-Robert Nilsson (Leksand); 16. San Jose, RW-Steve Bernier (Moncton), 17. New Jersey, C-Zach Parise (North Dakota); 18. Washington, RW-Eric Fehr (Brandon); 19. Anaheim, C-Ryan Getzlaf (Calgary); 20. Minnesota, RW-Brent Burns (Brampton); 21. Boston, Mark Stuart (Colorado College); 22. Edmonton, C-Marc-Antoine Pouliot (Rimouski); 23. Vancouver, C-Ryan Kesler (Ohio St.); 24. Philadelphia, C-Mike Richards (Kitchener); 25. Florida, F-Anthony Stewart (Kingston); 26. Los Angeles, C- Brian Boyle (St. Sebastien's H.S.); 27. Los Angeles, Jeff Tambellini (Michigan); 28. Anaheim, RW-Corey Perry (London); 29. Ottawa, RW-Patrick Eaves (Boston College); 30. St. Louis, D-Shawn Belle (Tri-City).

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