Skip to content

Panthers keep first overall pick, select d-man Ekblad

Jun 27, 2014, 7:29 PM EDT

Barrie Colts v Ottawa 67's Getty Images

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.

Related: Get to know a draft pick — Aaron Ekblad

Latest Posts
  1. Fanspeak: Bossy voted greatest Islander in franchise history

    Aug 22, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Florida Panthers v New York Islanders Getty Images

    The dynasty-era is well-represented in voting, as expected.

  2. Video: Luongo’s amusing Ice Bucket Challenge

    Aug 22, 2014, 7:14 PM EDT

    tryagain

    The TMNT pajamas really put it over the top.

  3. Larry Robinson has an … interesting take on Sharks captaincy

    Aug 22, 2014, 5:44 PM EDT

    Phoenix Coyotes v San Jose Sharks Getty Images

    “We’re waiting for somebody now to step forward and take charge of this team.”

  4. Can Kyle Okposo maintain momentum from his breakout year?

    Aug 22, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT

    New York Islanders v Winnipeg Jets Getty Images

    Despite missing 11 games, he set many career-high numbers.

  5. Jets’ Maurice adjusting to life in Winnipeg

    Aug 22, 2014, 3:01 PM EDT

    Paul Maurice AP

    Spent the summer relocating his family to the Manitoba capital.

  6. Report: Leiweke to head up Olympic bid in Los Angeles

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:05 PM EDT

    Tim Leiweke Getty Images

    Speculation on MLSE President & CEO’s next move.

  7. Looking to make the leap: Griffin Reinhart

    Aug 22, 2014, 1:32 PM EDT

    GriffinReinhart Getty Images

    Disappointed with demotion last season, 20-year-old will get another shot in September.

  8. Under Pressure: Garth Snow

    Aug 22, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT

    Garth Snow Getty Images

    Has to get his team on the winning track.

  9. Video: Rangers’ Lundqvist shows off tennis skills

    Aug 22, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT

    Henrik Lundqvist Getty Images

    Helps friend raise awareness at charity event.

  10. Report: Bruins need to make a trade

    Aug 22, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    toreykruggetty Getty Images

    Excess of defensemen has GM Peter Chiarelli in a bind.

  11. In praise of John Tavares

    Aug 22, 2014, 10:05 AM EDT

    John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Chad Johnson AP

    At 23 years old, he’s one of the best players in the NHL.

  12. Sakic on RFA Barrie: ‘I’m confident he’ll be here’

    Aug 22, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Tyson Barrie Getty Images

    He’s the last free agent for the Avs to re-sign.

  13. It’s New York Islanders Day at PHT

    Aug 22, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Travis Hamonic, Kyle Okposo, John Tavares Getty Images

    They came back to the pack hard last season.

  14. Sabres’ Larsson says he’s proven what he can in AHL

    Aug 21, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Johan Larsson Getty Images

    He’ll have a battle to make the NHL next season.

  15. NHLers hold charity games in Slovakia honoring Pavol Demitra

    Aug 21, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Pavol Demitra Getty Images

    He died in the plane crash that killed the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team in 2011.

  16. McDavid on teams possibly tanking for him: ‘It’s pretty crazy’

    Aug 21, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    Connor McDavid Getty Images

    The NHL changed the process for the Draft Lottery on Wednesday.

  17. It’s all on Crosby, Malkin to make it work in Pittsburgh

    Aug 21, 2014, 7:33 PM EDT

    Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Matt Niskanen AP

    We know it’s not surprising, but just go along with it.

  18. Sakic on Giguere: ‘His achievements speak for themselves’

    Aug 21, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT

    Jean-Sebastien Giguere AP

    A Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe in separate years is a nice legacy.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. K. Hayes (1831)
  2. R. Johansen (1744)
  3. S. Crosby (1673)
  4. J. Spezza (1458)
  5. A. Ovechkin (1332)
  1. C. MacArthur (1242)
  2. D. Alfredsson (1227)
  3. J. Giguere (1219)
  4. S. Mason (1216)
  5. R. Malone (1181)