BUFFALO, N.Y. — Once the “Go Leafs, Go!” chants subsided after Toronto selected Arizona-born center Auston Matthews with the first pick in the NHL draft, the Finns began their march to the podium.

Three players from Finland were selected among the top five picks, the most by the northern European nation.

“They’ve got a good thing going on there,” Canucks President Trevor Linden said after Vancouver rounded out the run of Finns by selecting defenseman Oli Juolevi with the fifth pick. The Winnipeg Jets selected forward Patrik Laine second, and Edmonton took forward Jesse Puljujarvi at No. 4.

The draft had an international flavor to it, starting with Matthews becoming the seventh American-born player to be selected No. 1, and first since the Chicago Blackhawks chose Patrick Kane with the top pick in 2007.

“My heart was beating. It was very nerve-wracking,” Matthews said, noting the Maple Leafs had not tipped their hand on who they were going to select since winning the NHL draft lottery in April. “Once they called my name, it was definitely a sigh of relief and a lot of excitement.”

Matthews, who grew up a Coyotes fan in Scottsdale, Arizona, was expected to be selected first.

NHL Central Scouting ranked the 6-foot-2, 210-pound play-maker as its top draft-eligible project. Matthews already has pro experience after spending last season with Zurich in the Swiss Elite League.

For Toronto, Matthews represents a significant piece in General Manager Lou Lamoriello’s extensive rebuilding plans to restore relevance to one of the league’s most high-profile franchises. The Maple Leafs have missed the playoffs 10 of the last 11 years, and spent last season purging high-priced contracts and veteran talent with a focus on rebuilding through youth.

“He’s an elite player with an elite drive train,” Toronto Coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s going to make us better, and he’ll develop into a top, top center in the National Hockey League.”

The Boston Bruins used the No. 14 overall pick to take Boston University defenseman Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy, a native of Long Beach, New York, who was the youngest player in NCAA Division I last season, scored 25 points (3 goals, 22 assists) in 37 games as a freshman.

“Just speechless,” said the 6-foot, 200-pound defenseman. “Just so happy to be a part of the Bruins. Got in close with them this year. I’m sure my friends at home will be happy, but kinda cutting the ties with New York sports. Boston’s an unbelievable city. I’m happy to be staying there.”

Still, it’ll be an adjustment for someone who has been a diehard New York sports fan.

“You grow up and you’re told not to like (the Boston teams),” he said, “but I got a Red Sox hat now, so that’s the first step, and this Bruins jersey. … I don’t know if I can be a Pats fan, but we’ll see; give it time.”

At BU, McAvoy often played alongside another Bruins draft pick, 2012 third-round Matt Grzelcyk.

“We’re very excited about Charlie,” Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney said in an interview on NBC Sports Network. “Obviously, we’ve seen him play a lot right in our backyard. Very excited to add him into the fold.

“(He’s) a multi-tool player (with) power-play acumen but also plays very hard and can log a lot of minutes. A powerful player, and I think we just realized the hockey sense – he sees the middle of the ice really well, the transitional part of his game. He can also defend with conviction.”

Boston also had the No. 29 overall pick, obtained from San Jose in a trade last year for goalie Martin Jones, and used it to take Trent Frederic, a center who has spent the last two seasons with the U.S. National Development Program.

During a week in which the NHL expanded into Las Vegas, the draft reflected the changing international nature of the sport.

Starting with Columbus selecting Pierre-Luc Dubois at No. 3, only three Canadian-born players were taken among the top 10 picks. That matches last year’s total, which was the fewest for Canada.

Finland’s presence reflected how the nation has begun to dominate on the world stage.

Finland won the 2015 world championship and the 2016 world junior championship, and lost to Canada in the world championship final last month.

“It’s a huge thing for our country, ourselves and the players,” Laine said. “I think it shows to everybody that we have good juniors, and we can be good at those tournaments and we can get drafted high.”

The Calgary Flames addressed several needs by selecting forward Matt Tkachuk – the son of former NHL star Keith Tkachuk – with the No. 6 pick, and acquired goalie Brian Elliott in a trade with St. Louis.