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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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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 4
TOR 1
Final
DUKE 66
UCONN 56
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
CHA
 
Final
CHI 103
NYK 97
Final
HOU 90
NOP 99
Final
SAC 107
MIL 108
Final
GSW 114
OKC 109
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
CHA
 
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
UTA
 
7:30pm Tonight
CLE
BRK
 
7:30pm Tonight
BOS
MIN
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
TOR
 
7:30pm Tonight
MIA
WAS
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
CHI
 
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SAN
POR
 
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DEN
LAC
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
OKC
 
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RICE 72
STTHOMASTX 61
 
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UVA 70
CLST 54
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LIU 69
FIU 58
 
Final
STET 67
GSOUT 76
 
Final
QUIN 80
LEH 65
 
Final
SFLA 69
SHU 89
Final
RICH 65
SALA 54
Final
CAN 60
USB 59
 
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DEL 62
TEMPL 82
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WCU 56
WRST 69
 
Final
VERM 56
YALE 57
 
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SDKST 75
IDST 72
 
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RIDE 62
MRGST 48
 
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LATU 79
NICST 54
 
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CHAR 75
APP 65
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MISS 71
CCAR 68
 
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DUKE 66
UCONN 56
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BRAD 80
EUREK 38
 
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PEAY 76
OAKC 52
 
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JST 66
SMISS 46
 
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SD 55
MNTST 53
 
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UAB 70
LSU 79
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EVAN 81
OHIO 69
 
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CSFU 72
CSDH 50
 
Final
ORST 90
DEP 59
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PAC 69
NEV 65
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USF 77
PORST 40
 
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IDAHO 86
WALLA 39
 
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UTST 57
CALST 56
 
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YOUNG
WILB
 
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TULA
JST
 
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RAD
SIENA
 
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MERC
COOK
 
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CASEWEST
 
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CLEM
 
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CMICH
CONC
 
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MIAMI
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GWEBB
HIWASSEE
 
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ODU
MDES
 
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BUF
NIAG
 
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KSU
NCAT
 
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FAM
UNF
 
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NORST
NARZ
 
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DART
NILL
 
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MORE
NKENTUCKY
 
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UCSB
SDCHR
 
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STJ
GAELS
 
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ALA
STILL
 
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TENST
 
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TENT
 
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SDKST
 
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CHAT
 
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SUTAH
 
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WINT
 
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SILL
NO
 
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ALAAM
 
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DEN
COLST
 
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IDST
 
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UTEP
ARZ
 
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CHAM
HAW
 
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PIT 1
COL 0
Final
PHI 1
FLA 2
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CAR 4
TOR 1
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CLB 4
WAS 5
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MON 1
ANA 2
Final
SJS 4
EDM 3
Final
LOS 6
STL 4
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NJD
TAM
 
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OTT
ANA
 
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DET
NYI
 
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WIN
BOS
 
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CAL
DAL
 
Final
JAC 21
TEN 13