Jun 27, 2014, 7:29 PM EDT
PHILADELPHIA — The Florida Panthers are hoping they’ve found their franchise defenseman. The club used its first overall selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft on Aaron Ekblad, the big blueliner from the OHL’s Barrie Colts.
Ekblad, 18, becomes the first defenseman since Erik Johnson (2006) to be taken first overall. One of his new Florida teammates, Ed Jovanovski, was also taken with the first pick, in 1994. The most successful defenseman ever taken first overall was Denis Potvin (1973, Islanders).
It’s possible Ekblad slots right into the Panthers’ lineup next season. There are scouts who think he’s NHL-ready, and Florida may also lose Tom Gilbert to free agency.
Ekblad said earlier this month that he tries to model his game after Nicklas Lidstrom.
“He was a pretty special player,” said Ekblad. “Everyone says he’s a great person off the ice, too, and I think that’s pretty important.”
What does it take to be an elite number-one defenseman like Lidstrom was for the Detroit Red Wings?
“Attention to details,” said Ekblad. “Knowing when to be simple, when to jump into the rush and provide offense. Playing good defense first. Being good on the power play and penalty kill. It takes being an all-around, full-package player. A two-way defenseman.”
There was talk the Panthers could trade the first overall pick, but ultimately general manager Dale Tallon walked up to the stage at Wells Fargo Center and announced Ekblad’s name.
Jul 29, 2014, 12:01 PM EDT
IIHF Disciplinary Board levies punishment for “very forceful check.”
Jul 29, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
Was traded from Toronto on July 1.
Jul 29, 2014, 11:04 AM EDT
New Caps coach wants “people who are really good at distributing the puck and making things happen from the middle of the ice.”
Jul 29, 2014, 10:05 AM EDT
Had 11 goals and seven assists in 53 games last season.
Jul 29, 2014, 9:47 AM EDT
Expected to be healthy for training camp.
Jul 29, 2014, 9:35 AM EDT
Can become an unrestricted free agent next summer now.
Jul 29, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
They won the Stanley Cup together in Tampa Bay.
Jul 29, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Jul 28, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT
Both were part of Dallas’ 1999 championship.
Jul 28, 2014, 10:16 PM EDT
He was recently hired by the team to serve as an assistant general manager.
Jul 28, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT
That won’t be easy given the Bruins’ current logjam.
Jul 28, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
He might still end up playing in Russia.
Jul 28, 2014, 6:50 PM EDT
He attempted to make the transition to North America in 2013-14.
Jul 28, 2014, 5:42 PM EDT
The two sides are unlikely to agree to terms quickly though.
Jul 28, 2014, 4:37 PM EDT
Yashin and Bure are among the players that will compete against Los Angeles.
Jul 28, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
“I was told there’s a definite opportunity.”
Jul 28, 2014, 2:27 PM EDT
Former Anaheim forward posted a career high in points last year.
Jul 28, 2014, 2:01 PM EDT
With Riley Sheahan also signed, the only RFA left is Danny DeKeyser.
Jul 28, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
He’s appeared in over 150 NHL games with Chicago, Dallas and Minnesota.
Jul 28, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
Veteran goalie is high on his young teammates.
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