After months of long and agonizing debate over the first overall pick for the 2014 NHL draft, the first overall pick was selected. It’s been a long season full of ups and downs, prospects falling and prospects rising, but when the dust settled, the Florida Panthers held the rights to the first overall pick for the 2014 NHL draft.
After more months of long debate, the Panthers decided it would be best for them to keep their first overall pick and used it to select defenceman Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts. While the first overall pick wasn’t clear all along, Ekblad was projected as the favourite for the first overall pick. He beat out Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart, Leon Draisaitl and Michael Dal Colle, who were all taken in the top 5. Sam Bennett was actually ranked 1st overall by Central Scouting but fell to fourth.
The Panthers said they were offered a fair deal for the first overall pick, but believed keeping the first overall pick served them and their future better. The Panthers need defencemen and leadership on the back-end, which is why Ekblad was extremely key to them.
With the Barrie Colts last season Ekblad recorded 53 points in 58 games playing on their blue-line and leading the team throughout the season. He’s a very mature defenceman who could virtually step into the NHL tomorrow. The best comparison for Ekblad early on would be Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators.
He’s a stellar defenceman with great sight, vision and a booming shot. He’s a guy the Panthers could easily build around going forward. Ekblad has an interesting story at six-foot-three 216-pounds he was granted exceptional player status by Hockey Canada to enter the OHL at just 15 and is hoping to be in the NHL next season. He has suited up for team Canada at many international junior tournaments and will continue to be a top notch defenceman in the near future.
The Florida Panthers are going to love Aaron Ekblad.