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 2, 2015, 12:43 AM EDT
Some interesting players still need deals.
Jul 1, 2015, 11:15 PM EDT
All the signings from what promises to be a busy day.
Jul 1, 2015, 10:37 PM EDT
Quite the steal.
Jul 1, 2015, 9:40 PM EDT
Adding some veteran help.
Jul 1, 2015, 9:10 PM EDT
“Young guns” no more?
Jul 1, 2015, 8:08 PM EDT
It’s reportedly worth $7.5 million.
Jul 1, 2015, 7:04 PM EDT
Reunited and it feels pretty good.
Jul 1, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT
The contract pays the 25-year-old $600,000.
Jul 1, 2015, 6:36 PM EDT
Had 22 goals for the Ducks in 2014-15.
Jul 1, 2015, 6:34 PM EDT
It’s reportedly two-years, $3 million.
Jul 1, 2015, 6:25 PM EDT
Don Sweeney keeps making moves.
Jul 1, 2015, 6:16 PM EDT
The Rangers were a banged-up group in the playoffs.
Jul 1, 2015, 6:09 PM EDT
Was the first netminder taken at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Jul 1, 2015, 5:34 PM EDT
Fresh off winning the Stanley Cup with Chicago.
Jul 1, 2015, 4:53 PM EDT
“We are here to build a team that is capable of winning a Stanley Cup. There are no shortcuts to go around doing that.”
Jul 1, 2015, 4:06 PM EDT
23-year-old had 18 points in 29 games last year.
Jul 1, 2015, 4:05 PM EDT
Moves on from Washington, the team that drafted him in 2004.
Jul 1, 2015, 3:38 PM EDT
Penguins GM considers his new winger in the same class as Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos.
Jul 1, 2015, 3:28 PM EDT
So long, Boston University.
Jul 1, 2015, 3:19 PM EDT
29-year-old forward will look to get his career back on track.
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- Coyotes bring back Vermette with two-year deal 29
- Bruins sign Beleskey for five years, despite some warning signs 40
- Kessel trade shows Leafs are trying to ‘build this thing the right way’ 26
- Green signs with Red Wings — 3 years, $18 million 24
- ‘It’s hard to find players like Phil Kessel’ 39
- Kassian traded to Habs for Prust; Hodgson signs with Preds 17
- Blockbuster: Kessel traded to the Penguins 131
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- Trade: Flames land Dougie Hamilton for package of picks (75)