Trade Makes Nash Top Pick

Archived from 2002-03 season.

NHL teams

Rick Nash became the surprise No.1 pick in 2002 NHL Entry Draft after Florida and Columbus swapped first round picks. The Blue Jackets then made Nash their selection.

"We've had him No. 1 all year," Columbus GM Doug MacLean said. "It's very rare you get a chance for the first overall pick and control your own destiny. We just felt it was the right thing to do."

Florida wanted defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who was still available when the Panthers picked third.

The Panthers also gave up their third-round pick this year and a fourth-rounder in next year's draft to Atlanta in exchange for the Thrashers' promise that they wouldn't select Bouwmeester with the No. 2 pick.

"We got the guy we wanted, and that's all we cared about," Florida GM Rick Dudley said. "We wanted Bouwmeester."

Atlanta selected Finland's Kari Lehtonen with the No.2 pick, making him the highest European goalie draft choice. Lehtonen was also the first European player drafted this year.

"I'm very proud of that," Lehtonen said. "I think this shows that there are very good goalies in Europe, too."

There were couple of other deals. The Buffalo Sabres traded Slava Kozlov to Atlanta, and acquired Edmonton center Jochen Hecht for two second-round picks. The New York Islanders dealt offensive forward Mariusz Czerkawski to Montreal for Arron Asham and a draft pick.

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