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 25, 2014, 4:05 PM EDT
He was taken with the fourth overall pick.
Jul 25, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
Two-time Stanley Cup winner played last season with KHL club HC Donbass.
Jul 25, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
“I wish I had a really good answer — where this came from and why, and how it came about — but I don’t, to be honest.”
Jul 25, 2014, 1:01 PM EDT
“We’re hoping the change of scenery is going to do him good.”
Jul 25, 2014, 12:09 PM EDT
But not before having played his first NHL game since 2009-10.
Jul 25, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT
“It’s a fairly simple one because Marc wants to be here,”
Jul 25, 2014, 10:13 AM EDT
The 32nd overall pick at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Jul 25, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
He made his NHL debut with Washington last season.
Jul 25, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Friday’s collection of links.
Jul 24, 2014, 11:08 PM EDT
In other words, they want him to be a shutdown center
Jul 24, 2014, 10:14 PM EDT
Eriksson’s looking to bounce back after suffering two concussions last season.
Jul 24, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT
He’ll get a fresh start after struggling with Vancouver.
Jul 24, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
He’s coming back after testing the free agent waters.
Jul 24, 2014, 6:57 PM EDT
It’s that time of the year.
Jul 24, 2014, 5:53 PM EDT
He started in nine games for the Flames last season.
Jul 24, 2014, 4:42 PM EDT
The Canucks selected him with one of the picks they got from the Ryan Kesler trade.
Jul 24, 2014, 3:31 PM EDT
The two sides managed to avoid arbitration despite a $1.45 million gap on a one-year deal.
Jul 24, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
Alternately known as “the guy Boston got for Vladimir Sobotka.”
Jul 24, 2014, 2:19 PM EDT
Journeyman split last season between the Rangers and Penguins.
Jul 24, 2014, 1:20 PM EDT
Offensive d-man led all Colorado blueliners in goals last year, with 13.
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