Panthers take Ekblad with No. 1 pick in NHL draft

Panthers take Ekblad with No. 1 pick in NHL draft

June 27th, 2014 by Associated Press in Local - Breaking News

Aaron Ekblad stands with Florida Panthers officials after being chosen first overall during the first round of the NHL hockey draft, Friday, June 27, 2014, in Philadelphia.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

PHILADELPHIA - The Florida Panthers have selected defenseman Aaron Ekblad with the first pick in the NHL draft.

The 6-foot-4, 214-pound Ekblad played for Barrie in the Ontario Hockey League. He is the first defenseman to go No. 1 since St. Louis took Erik Johnson in 2006.

Without a clear cut No. 1, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon was open to trading the pick. In the end, he decided to take the 18-year-old defenseman with the first selection at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Panthers had a top-three pick in the NHL draft for the fourth time in the past five years. The first three - defenseman Erik Gudbranson (in 2010), wing Jonathan Huberdeau (2011) and center Aleksander Barkov (2013) - all played significant roles last season.