Panthers take defenseman at No. 1
Philadelphia • With the first pick of the NHL draft, the Florida Panthers went with 15 seconds of dramatic pause before announcing the name.
The silence felt much longer for Aaron Ekblad.
"I was just sitting there just kind of scared and excited at the same time," he said.
At last, general manager Dale Tallon made the call for Ekblad, selecting the defenseman with the first pick in the Friday night.
Ekblad, a 6-foot-4, 214-pound defenseman who played for Barrie in the Ontario Hockey League, is the first defenseman to go No. 1 since St. Louis took Erik Johnson in 2006.
Without a clear cut No. 1 on the board, Tallon was open to trading the pick. In the end, he decided to take the 18-year-old defenseman from Belle River, Ontario. The Buffalo Sabres selected center Sam Reinhart with the second overall pick. He is the son of former NHL player Paul Reinhart, who was selected by the Atlanta Flames in the first round in 1979.
Reinhart has the potential to be a top-line center in filling a key need for the rebuilding Sabres. Buffalo (21-51-10) finished last in the NHL standings, and set a franchise record for losses.
The Edmonton Oilers selected center Leon Draisaitl with the third overall pick, Calgary took center Sam Bennett with the fourth pick and the New York Islanders picked forward Michael Dal Colle fifth. Vancouver selected forward Jake Virtanen with the sixth pick, Carolina took defenseman Haydn Fleury seventh, Toronto took forward William Nylander eighth, Winnipeg selected forward Nickolaj Ehlers ninth and Anaheim completed the top 10 with forward Nick Ritchie.There was a big trade in the hours before the draft, when the Anaheim Ducks acquired center Ryan Kesler from the Vancouver Canucks for center Nick Bonino, defenseman Luca Sbisa and the 24th overall pick Friday
The champion L.A. Kings picked Sweden's Adrian Kempe, a 17-year-old forward, with the 29th selection.
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