After much discussion, the Florida Panthers couldn’t find a deal worthy of giving up the first overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, so they went ahead and made their selection.
The Panthers selected Barrie Colts’ defenseman Aaron Ekblad with the #1 pick, making him just the second defenseman drafted first overall since the Senators took Chris Phillips with the first pick in 1996. He is mature beyond his years and should play in the NHL next season, especially on a Panthers blue line that isn’t the deepest in the league.
Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray made his first selection as an NHL General Manager by selecting Sam Reinhart from the Kootenay Ice of the WHL. He is the third of the Reinhart brothers selected, following in the footsteps of Max (3rd rd, 64th overall by the Flames) and Griffin (4th overall in 2012 by the New York Islanders). He fills a need for the Sabres up front as they are stacked in defensive prospects.
Edmonton held the #3 pick, and although they really need help on the blue line, there wasn’t a player at this point in the draft that they could justify since Ekblad was off the board. They selected Leon Draisaitl from Prince Albert of the WHL. He adds size and a goal-scoring ability up the middle, who has a cannon of a shot.
The Oilers’ provincial rival are in the second year of a rebuild, and the Calgary Flames took the “other” Sam – Sam Bennett from the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL. Bennett will eventually form a solid 1-2 combination with last year’s first round pick from 2013 – former OHL rival Sean Monahan.
The New York Islanders possessed the fifth pick and they selected rugged winger Michael Dal Colle from the Oshawa Generals of the OHL, making 3 of the top 5 selections from that developmental league. He is a solid skater, nice shot and decent size that will be a force on the win in Brooklyn, but is probably a couple of years away.
Much to the disappointment of many viewers, there were no trades announced during the first 45 minutes of the coverage and there were also no surprises.
I will continue to update the rest of the first round as it progresses, so check back later where we will definitely find some off the board picks and hopefully a few deals.