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.
Aug 22, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
The dynasty-era is well-represented in voting, as expected.
Aug 22, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
The slogan is “Tradition on Ice.”
Aug 22, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
Not exactly blasting his former employers.
Aug 22, 2014, 7:14 PM EDT
The TMNT pajamas really put it over the top.
Aug 22, 2014, 5:44 PM EDT
“We’re waiting for somebody now to step forward and take charge of this team.”
Aug 22, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT
Despite missing 11 games, he set many career-high numbers.
Aug 22, 2014, 3:01 PM EDT
Spent the summer relocating his family to the Manitoba capital.
Aug 22, 2014, 2:05 PM EDT
Speculation on MLSE President & CEO’s next move.
Aug 22, 2014, 1:32 PM EDT
Disappointed with demotion last season, 20-year-old will get another shot in September.
Aug 22, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT
Has to get his team on the winning track.
Aug 22, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT
Helps friend raise awareness at charity event.
Aug 22, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT
Excess of defensemen has GM Peter Chiarelli in a bind.
Aug 22, 2014, 10:05 AM EDT
At 23 years old, he’s one of the best players in the NHL.
Aug 22, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
He’s the last free agent for the Avs to re-sign.
Aug 22, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
They came back to the pack hard last season.
Aug 21, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
He’ll have a battle to make the NHL next season.
Aug 21, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
He died in the plane crash that killed the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team in 2011.
Aug 21, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT
The NHL changed the process for the Draft Lottery on Wednesday.
Aug 21, 2014, 7:33 PM EDT
We know it’s not surprising, but just go along with it.
Aug 21, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT
A Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe in separate years is a nice legacy.
- Report: Leiweke to head up Olympic bid in Los Angeles 11
- In praise of John Tavares 14
- It’s New York Islanders Day at PHT 26
- McDavid on teams possibly tanking for him: ‘It’s pretty crazy’ 19
- Fanspeak: Lemieux (stunner!) voted greatest Penguin in franchise history 39
- Under Pressure: Mike Johnston 17
- It’s Pittsburgh Penguins Day at PHT 33
- Captain no more: Sharks strip Thornton of ‘C’ 47
- Tank defense: NHL changes up Draft Lottery format 55
- Fanspeak: Clarke voted greatest Flyer in franchise history 40