The first selection in the 2014 NHL draft belongs to the Florida Panthers, but the likelihood of them actually making that pick is tough to gauge.
Panthers general manager Dale Tallon, who already has revealed that he’s shopping the No. 1 pick, said earlier this week that he has received a “fair” trade offer from one team interested in moving up, per Damien Cox of the Toronto Sun.
It has been previously reported that the Toronto Maple Leafs, who own the No. 8 selection, are interested in moving up in the first round.
The prospect at the top of most NHL mock drafts is Barrie Colts (OHL) defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who projects to be a top-pairing player with a well-rounded skill set. It’s very difficult to acquire franchise defensemen on the trade and free agent markets because of their immense value, so adding one through the draft always is the best option.
If the Panthers keep the top pick, they probably will take Ekblad. This makes sense because Florida doesn’t need any more centers, especially after it took Aleksander Barkov No. 2 last year.
[tweet https://twitter.com/hfialkov/status/476080668636504064 align=”center”]
Centers Sam Bennett (Kingston, OHL) and Sam Reinhart (Kootenay, WHL) are the best forwards available in this draft class, according to NHL Central Scouting’s final pre-draft rankings. Bennett made headlines for not being able to do a single pull-up at the draft combine last month, but he has been compared to Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews because of his impressive two-way skill set. That’s not a bad pro-player comparison.