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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 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 49 28 13 8 145 125 64
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 49 18 22 9 110 137 45
15 CAR 48 17 25 6 104 125 40
16 BUF 50 14 33 3 94 179 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 46 16 13 -1 29
A. Ekblad 46 7 21 6 28
J. Huberdeau 43 9 17 1 26
J. Jokinen 45 4 21 -3 25
B. Boyes 44 10 12 2 22
J. Hayes 38 13 7 1 20
S. Bergenheim 35 8 9 2 17
A. Barkov 35 5 10 -5 15
B. Campbell 46 3 11 -1 14
D. Kulikov 41 1 13 -3 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 18 11 8 .920 2.42
A. Montoya 3 4 2 .891 2.96
 
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