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Canes take defenseman with No. 7 NHL pick

Posted June 26
Updated June 27

Aaron Ekblad pulls on Florida Panthers sweater after being chosen first overall during the NHL hockey draft, Friday, June 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

— After the obligatory Philadelphia tour that included cheesesteaks, a run up to the Rocky statue and a baseball game at Citizens Bank Park, the top NHL prospects got down to business Friday night when the Florida Panthers drafted defenseman Aaron Ekbladl first overall.

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.

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.

When the Carolina Hurricanes' turn came at No. 7, they too went with defense, drafting Haydn Fleury.

New GM Ron Francis and head coach Bill Peters had just about a week to officially put their heads together on the pick, and focused on the back line as expected.

Fleury, at 6'3" and 205 pounds, is was the second-highest rated prospect on defense going into the draft. The scouting line on him noted his outstanding skating and puck handling.

Flyers fans packed the arena for the first draft in the city. They gave one of the longest sustained boos in recent memory for NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's draft introduction. He was drowned out for most of his two-minute speech thanking the city for its hospitality.

"Isn't this supposed to be the city of brotherly love," he asked.

Former Flyer Rod Brind'Amour received a huge ovation when the Carolina assistant coach made the pick for the Hurricanes.

The 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, who are coming off one of their worst seasons in franchise history. 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, and Carolina took defenseman Haydn Fleury seventh.

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 29-year-old Kesler is a standout two-way center who has spent his entire 10-season career in Vancouver, compiling six 20-goal seasons and 392 career points. The two-time U.S. Olympian won the Selke Trophy in 2011 as the NHL's best defensive forward.

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  • ktstcanes Jun 27, 9:03 p.m.

    Really wanted Nick Ritchie with this pick. Would have been protection for Skinner.

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Local
Final
CAR 17
CLE 13
Final
NYR 1
CAR 0
Final
TOR 118
NYK 108
Final
CLE 105
MEM 91
Final
MIA 100
BOS 84
Final
BRK 110
DET 105
Final
SAC 108
LAL 101
Final
ORL 88
PHI 96
Final
WAS 92
PHO 104
Final
MIN 96
IND 100
Final
OKC 99
NOP 101
Final
UVA 76
HARV 27
Final
BGU 68
FERST 82
 
Final
ARMY 72
MAINE 69
 
Final
QUIN 60
ORST 52
Final
CLST 69
USF 65
 
Final
CARK 55
CCAR 72
 
Final
UWGB 66
ARKLR 46
 
Final
RAD 74
CORN 61
 
Final
UNT 62
CREI 58
Final
CAN 67
HC 48
 
Final
USB 67
GHND 52
 
Final
OKST 64
MD 73
Final
WINT 100
REIN 72
 
Final
UGST 68
SMISS 55
Final
NEOM 77
TXPA 72
 
Final
STLU 58
VERM 55
 
Final
UNCA 62
WCU 66
 
Final
EVAN 81
ALAST 63
 
Final
HART 82
FIU 69
 
Final
VALPO 82
GOSHEN 55
 
Final
LIP 69
PEAY 63
 
Final
DEN 46
BRY 48
 
Final
MONT 62
SD 67
 
Final
MTST 65
TENST 47
Final
SAMF 64
LAMON 50
 
Final
SCAR 78
COKR 52
 
Final
HAMP 75
NARZ 66
 
Final
SDU 71
SDCHR 61
 
Final
BC 71
USC 75
Final
NICST 64
TROY 65
 
Final
BRAD 47
UCI 55
 
Final
UGA 65
SHU 47
Final
ALA 60
APP 59
Final
KSU 53
NDST 52
 
Final
WASU 82
SJST 53
Final
UTEP 78
ALCOR 45
 
Final
SEAT 66
SACST 47
 
Final
DET 1
COL 2
Final
EDM 5
DAL 6
Final
BOS 4
BUF 3
Final
NYR 1
CAR 0
Final
CHI 4
TOR 0
Final
WIN 3
PHI 4
 
Final
NOS 14
ATL 30
Final
HOU 25
BAL 13
Final
CAR 17
CLE 13
Final
CHI 14
DET 20
Final
TAM 3
GBP 20
Final
PIT 20
KAN 12
Final
MIA 37
MIN 35
Final
NYJ 16
NEP 17
Final
STL 27
NYG 37
Final
OAK 26
BUF 24
Final
DAL 42
IND 7
Final
ARI 6
SEA 35