Jun 27, 2014, 7:29 PM EST
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.
Feb 27, 2015, 1:16 AM EST
His shutout streak is now at 172:22.
Feb 26, 2015, 11:31 PM EST
Nino Niederreiter combined skill and good fortune to help his team win.
Feb 26, 2015, 11:06 PM EST
Making room for Andrej Sekera.
Feb 26, 2015, 10:30 PM EST
Nice work from Craig Smith and Nino Niederreiter, respectively.
Feb 26, 2015, 10:17 PM EST
The possibilities are extensive, it seems.
Feb 26, 2015, 9:55 PM EST
Giving up precious points.
Feb 26, 2015, 8:52 PM EST
Two goals on eight shots was enough to inspire a change.
Feb 26, 2015, 8:37 PM EST
He doesn’t regret signing with Toronto, though he’s welcoming the change.
Feb 26, 2015, 8:12 PM EST
Feb 26, 2015, 8:00 PM EST
Minnesota needs this against one of the West’s best.
Feb 26, 2015, 7:39 PM EST
In other news, it appears as though David Krejci is on LTIR.
Feb 26, 2015, 6:32 PM EST
Canucks requested the league take a closer look, but no evidence was found.
Feb 26, 2015, 6:27 PM EST
Feb 26, 2015, 6:18 PM EST
Head coach Joel Quenneville said it’s “all news to me.”
Feb 26, 2015, 5:30 PM EST
A familiar face goes back to the Toronto organization.
Feb 26, 2015, 4:49 PM EST
Buy hey, you never know.
Feb 26, 2015, 4:39 PM EST
Bold move from Florida GM Dale Tallon.
Feb 26, 2015, 4:35 PM EST
Looking forward to playing “a better role.”
Feb 26, 2015, 4:31 PM EST
Joining the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Chick Hearn and Oscar De La Hoya.
Feb 26, 2015, 4:06 PM EST
Former “CPR Line” line member is headed back to St. Louis.
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