MONTREAL (AP) — The Montreal Canadiens have selected Slovak winger Juraj Slafkovsky with the first pick in the NHL draft. He’s the first player from Slovakia to be taken No. 1. The previous best was Marian Gaborik going third in 2000. This was the first year in nearly a decade there was suspense about who was going to be the No. 1 pick right up until the player’s name was called. The Canadiens said they were considering Slafkovsky, Canadian center Shane Wright and American forward Logan Cooley. The New Jersey Devils surprisingly selected Slovak defenseman and Slafkovsky Olympic teammate Simon Nemec with the second pick.

2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One
Getty Images

Three Russian prospects were selected in the first round of the NHL draft despite increasing fears of their availability to play in North America due to travel restrictions stemming from the war in Ukraine. Anaheim Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek said he focused on selecting the best player available in using the 10th pick to draft defenseman Pavel Mintyukov. The Washington Capitals selected forward Ivan Miroshnichenko 20th, and Minnesota Wild chose right wing Danila Yurov four picks later. All three were projected to go in the first round, though questions were raised as to whether their draft stock might fall.

More From 600 ESPN El Paso