Florida Panthers take Aaron Ekblad first overall in NHL Draft
By Ian Palmer
In NHL hockey betting news, the Florida Panthers used the first-overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia June 27 to select 18-year-old defenseman Aaron Ekblad of the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Barrie Colts. The 6-foot-3, 213-pound teenager led the league’s defenseman in goals last season with 23 and was named the best blue liner in the OHL. Panthers’ general manager Dale Tallon said Ekblad is so mature for his age and can probably step into the Florida lineup as early as this upcoming season.
Ekblad was so advanced on the ice as a youngster it led Hockey Canada to grant him special status as an exceptional player back in 2011 when he was just 15 years old. He was also selected first overall in the 2011 OHL Draft by the Colts. Ekblad becomes the first defenseman chosen with the first overall pick since 2006 when the St. Louis Blues took Erik Johnson. He’s also the first Canadian-born defenseman to be chosen number one since Chris Phillips was selected by the Ottawa Senators in 1996.
The Buffalo Sabres owned the second pick and they took center Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League (WHL). The 6-foot-1, 186-pound forward scored 36 goals and 69 assists for 105 points in 60 games last season. This tied him for fourth in scoring in the league. He also played seven games at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships with Canada and chipped in with five points. Reinhart becomes the fourth member of his family to be drafted into the NHL. Paul Reinhart, his father was taken 12th overall in 1979 by the former Atlanta Flames. His brother Max was chosen 64th overall in 2010 by the Calgary Flames and his brother Griffin was selected fourth overall by the New York Islanders in 2012.
Center Leon Draisaitl of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders was taken number three overall by the Edmonton Oilers. Draisaitl made NHL history by becoming the highest-chosen German-trained player ever. The mark was formerly held by center Marcel Goc of the Pittsburgh Penguins who was taken 20th overall by the San Jose Sharks in 2001. The 6-foot-1, 208-pound forward was tied for fourth in WHL scoring with Reinhart as he also scored 105 points last season. Draisaitl had 38 goals along with 67 assists in 64 games. He played in the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships and scored six points in six games for Germany. He also played seven games at the World Championships and had four points.
The Calgary Flames used the fourth overall pick on 6-foot, 180- pound center Sam Bennett of the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL. Bennett scored 91 points last season in just 57 games on 36 goals and 55 assists. He enjoyed a league-high point-scoring streak of 25 games in which he racked up 46 points on 17 goals and 29 assists. Bennett ranked the top North American prospect all season long by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau. The New York Islanders had the fifth pick and took left-winger Michael Dal Colle of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. The 6-2, 182-pound forward scored 95 points on 39 goals and 56 assists in 67 games last season and was ranked number five in North America by NHL Central Scouting.