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2010 NHL Draft
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Thrice Is Nice

Saturday, 06.26.2010 / 12:53 AM ET / 2010 NHL Draft
Florida Panthers
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Thrice Is Nice

By Glenn Odebralski for floridapanthers.com

Talk about a busy day. Two trades, three new draft picks and the addition of two new forwards. And that's just day one.

Some teams were ecstatic getting one pick in the first round. But for the Florida Panthers, it was like Christmas three times over.

Thanks to a trade that sent defenseman Keith Ballard to the Vancouver Canucks along with Victor Oreskovich, the Panthers garnered a third first round pick to go along with the third and the 15th. The Cats also grabbed forwards Steve Bernier and Michael Grabner in the transaction.

After selecting Erik Gudbranson with the third overall pick, Florida would trade with Los Angeles, getting the 19th and 59th picks for the 15th.

With the 19th selection, the Panthers took Minnesota's Mr. Hockey 6'4 center Nick Bjugstad.

And with the final first rounder, 25th overall, Florida took Moose Jaw forward Quinton Howden.

Got that all?

"It's a big turning point in our franchise," said Panthers GM Dale Tallon. "A very successful day at the draft and we got some good players that fill some needs that are still young, are still good players and I'm very elated with what happened today.

"It was a wonderful day."

All three players taken exemplify what Tallon has been looking for. Character, size, skill, speed and more character.

Gudbranson was thrilled with being taken by the Panthers.

"I did my research on their team. I felt that with Dmitry Kulikov there, I think I could be a good compliment to him on the backend," said Gudbranson.

"A real attraction is having Dale Tallon there. You see what he did with the Chicago Blackhawks and winning a Stanley Cup and building that team from scratch. I'm really excited to be a Florida Panther now and I feel that this is a team that's going in the right direction. There's no doubt in my mind that I want to be there."

The 6'4 blueliner is seen as a Chris Pronger/Dion Phaneuf type player.

"Impeccable character," said Tallon of Gudbranson. "Good speed. Good size. Tremendous toughness. All those things really got a lot of character and will make us a tougher team to play against."

Trading with Los Angeles, Tallon was able to still get the player they wanted while picking up an extra second (the team's fourth) along the way.

The Panthers then got one of the best high school products in the United States, taking Bjugstad.

The 6'4 188 lb center tore up his high school league recording 29 goals and 31 assists in just 25 games.

"I have to give Scott Luce and Erin Ginell and the staff kudos because I relied on them really heavily and we did a lot of things that we planned, came to the table ready, very prepared and were able to accomplish the plan and then add an additional pick and still get a player we thought would get at 15 at 19," said Tallon.

"I'm definitely excited," said Bjugstad of being drafted. "The nerves have kind of gone away since it just happened so I'm really excited about going to the Florida Panthers and hopefully I can improve these next couple of years and play for them."

While the deal was technically agreed to earlier in the night, the Ballard to Vancouver deal wasn't official until right before the 25th selection. Picking up Howden with the third first of the night, the Panthers finished out the day with yet another high character kid.

"It honestly didn't matter to me where I went," said Howden. "I wanted to go to a team that wanted me. My whole goal was to get drafted and this is one of the best experiences of my life so I'm just trying to enjoy it right now.

I had some good interviews with them so obviously it was kind of a dice that was being roled for me. They made a few trades in moving up in the draft so I was excited and I'm really fortunate right now."

For the Panthers, the reason Ballard was the focal point of the trade with Vancouver was due to his value. And with 10 teams pitching trade ideas at the Panthers, it just so happened that the return for the defenseman was substantial.

"I talked about assets that were tradeable and you can't trade guys that aren't wanted," said Tallon. "They're valuable assets and we were able to fill a lot of needs and sometimes you have to make those deicisions to fill up the depth chart and go in the right direction."

With day one in the books, there's still a lot more that Tallon wants to accomplish before the Draft is done.

"I can't be satisfied," said Tallon. "How can you be satisfied? We have to turn the corner and we have to get playoff ready and we have got to start challenging and make it difficult for teams to play against."

But for the new GM, the three kids drafted were a good start to rebuilding the franchise and getting them back on track.

"We want people that really care, are passionate and will compete hard every night and have our fans be happy with the effort every night," said Tallon. "I think we addressed that today and we're going to continue to add the character, the size, the skill and the passion so that we can be successful in a hurry."




1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01

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