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Ekblad is the One

Florida Panthers use the first overall selection in the 2014 NHL Draft to select D Aaron Ekblad

Friday, 06.27.2014 / 10:13 PM / News
By Patrick McGrath  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Ekblad is the One
Florida Panthers use the first overall selection in the 2014 NHL Draft to select D Aaron Ekblad

After months of speculation, the Florida Panthers took defenseman Aaron Ekblad with the first overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. The Panthers decided to keep the first overall selection after fielding trade offers from teams around the league over the past few weeks. While Panthers general manager said the team received some ‘intriguing’ offers, there was evidently nothing impressive enough to convince the team to part ways with the top pick.

Ekblad comes into the league with a sterling amateur resume and is talked about as the most NHL-ready player in the draft. The blueliner believes that he can jump into the NHL and make an impact right away.

“I am confident that I can step into the league next year,” said Ekblad. “I think that is what the Florida Panthers see in me.”

The Director of NHL’s Central Scouting, Dan Marr agrees with Ekblad’s assessment of his immediate NHL prospects.

"He is a building block for any team," Marr told USA Today. "He's smart and solid when it comes to defending, and the offensive side of his game continues to develop.”

"He is the best defenseman available and would be projected to vie for an NHL job a lot sooner than most."

Ekblad’s polish is partially a product of his joining the Ontario Hockey League a year before most of his peers. In 2011, the Windsor, ON native became the first defenseman ever to be granted ‘exceptional player’ status which allowed him join the OHL at just 15-years-old. The 6’4” blueliner enjoyed three successful seasons with the Barrie Colts, including his 2013-14 season in which he captained his team, led all OHL defensemen in goals scored with 23, and was named the OHL’s Most Outstanding Defenseman.

Ekblad is also experienced at the international level as he played for Canada at the 2014 World Junior Championship and captained the Canadians to a gold medal at the 2013 U-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

After taking the pick, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon admitted that some teams came close with the trade offers but ultimately there were no deals strong enough to convince the team to give up the top pick.

“There were a couple of teams, beyond ten to twenty that really came close,” said Tallon. “It was an interesting evening and morning but we felt that it wasn’t quite the deal that we needed.”

Tallon also stated that Ekblad’s character and maturity for his age were huge factors in the decision.

“I think the character is impeccable. He is so mature for his age and he fits in with what we have.”

The pick at the top of the draft was the first time that the Panthers selected with the first overall pick since they selected defenseman Ed Jovanovski first at the 1994 draft. Jovanovski, an 18-year veteran, has played 1,128 games in the pros and is in his second stint with the Panthers.

Ekblad will take the ice for the first time in a Panthers uniform at the Florida Panthers July 7-11 Development Camp. He will be joined by fellow youngsters in the Panthers system including the players the Panthers select in rounds 2-7 which will take place tomorrow starting at 10:00 a.m.

 

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
11 OTT 61 27 23 11 173 166 65
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 64 22 16 -9 38
J. Huberdeau 61 9 28 3 37
A. Ekblad 64 11 23 7 34
J. Jokinen 63 6 28 -1 34
B. Boyes 62 11 21 8 32
J. Jagr 60 12 19 -10 31
J. Hayes 55 17 12 -4 29
B. Campbell 64 3 20 2 23
A. Barkov 53 10 12 -5 22
T. Fleischmann 52 7 14 12 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 16 11 .921 2.37
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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