The Florida Panthers selected defenseman Aaron Ekblad with the first pick in the NHL Draft on Friday night.
“We are thrilled to have selected Aaron with the No. 1 pick,” declared Florida general manager Dale Tallon. “He is a strong, smart and physically mature defenseman who skates well and can play at both ends of the ice. Aaron is another building block for our team and we are confident that he will fit well with our young nucleus of talented players that includes Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau and Erik Gudbranson.”
Ekblad, 18, skated this past season for the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League, which named him its most outstanding defenseman. At 15, he won rookie of the year honors in the league.
Buffalo snagged center Sam Reinhart, a second generation first-round pick, in the next spot. The Atlanta Flames took his dad Paul during Jimmy Carter’s presidency. The Oilers also selected a center, Leon Draisaitl. The Calgary Flames picked a center, too, in Sam Bennett at four. The Islanders scooped up left winger Michael Dal Colle with the fifth pick.
The first round saw fourteen Canadians, five Americans, two Fins, two Russians, a German, and even a Brit picked but not a single player from Planet Goalie.