NHL.com: Preds make Hellberg first goalie picked at draft

Saturday, 06.25.2011 / 3:31 PM / Predators Draft Central
ST. PAUL -- In the eyes of Nashville Predators European scout Lucas Bergman, goalie Magnus Hellberg had established himself the best at his position.
  Magnus Hellberg 2011 Draft Interview
Lucas Bergman on Preds Scandinavian Draftees
In fact, the lanky 6-foot-5, 185-pound Swede impressed so much that the Predators couldn't resist making him the first goalie selected at the 2011 Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center. It was a bit of a surprise considering the top two North American prospects were still on the board -- John Gibson of the National Team Development Program and Christopher Gibson of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens.
According to Central Scouting, Hellberg wasn't even considered the top European goalie -- that distinction went to Finland's Samu Perhonen (3rd Round, No. 62, Edmonton Oilers).
The Predators selected Hellberg in the second round (No. 38) on Saturday.
"It's a dream come true," Hellberg said. "I didn't think I was going to be the first goalie, but when I got picked it was great moment for me to join a great organization. When I got (to the draft), I said to myself I don't have any expectations or hope because I don't want to be disappointed. I heard people say I'd be picked in the second-to-fifth round so I didn't think I was going second, really. But when I did it's an awesome feeling."
Hellberg, who finished with a 2.04 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in 31 games for Almtuna in Sweden's Second Division in 2010-11, is excited to be joining an organization so keen on grooming top-caliber goalies.
"We've had success Pekka (Rinne) and (Anders) Lindback here and I see a lot of similarities with those two goalies and Hellberg's game as far as size, athleticism and ability to read the game and mental state ... definitely," Bergman said. "In my book, I saw a separation between Hellberg and those two (North American goalies). Magnus, in our eyes, is the top goalie in this draft with a separation."
Hellberg just recently signed a two-year deal with Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League and will likely join the team, which also happens to be in his hometown, next season.
"I just moved there so my focus is to play with Frolunda, but if (Nashville) wants me to come over we'll talk about what is best for my development," Hellberg said.
Bergman likes the fact Hellberg is an older goalie (he was born in 1991).
"He's an older kid in the draft and played senior hockey last year," he said. "His maturity ... I don't think he's that far away. I don't see any reason to rush him but maturity wise, he's not far off."
Hellberg describes himself as a "big butterfly goalie who tries to take advantage of size."
"I do not do the big saves all the time and try to stay in position in net, be calm," he said.
As far as those two North American keepers, John Gibson would be selected one slot after Hellberg, going No. 38 overall to the Anaheim Ducks. Christopher Gibson was also taken in the second round by the Los Angeles Kings (No. 49).
After going unbeaten in his only two games with the Under-18 Team last season, the University of Michigan-bound John Gibson fashioned an impressive 24-11-3 mark with a 2.55 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 40 contests in 2010-11.
His most notable achievement was leading the U.S. Under-18 National Team to its third consecutive gold medal at the U18 World Championship Germany. He made 28 saves in a 4-3 overtime victory against Sweden in the final and received the directorate award as the tournament's best goalie after going a perfect 6-0-0 with a 2.34 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.
"It was definitely a nerve-racking experience and I'm happy it's over now," John Gibson said. "I'm happy to be in a good organization. I'm not too worried about not being the first goalie taken. I just wanted to just get drafted and go to a good club. I've never been to Anaheim, so I'm definitely looking forward to that."
Christopher Gibson fashioned a 14-15-8 record with a 2.42 GAA and .920 save percentage in 37 regular-season games, including four shutouts, for the Sagueneens.

Despite the fact no goalie was selected in the first round for the third time in the past five Entry Drafts -- similar to what happened in 2007 and '09 -- six total keepers were taken over Round 2 and 3.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mike_morreale

Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer

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1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67


S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43


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