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Aaron Ekblad: From the 2014 NHL Draft to Florida Panthers Lifer

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Panthers ekblad
Aaron Ekblad, the top pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, had now played the third-most games with the Florida Panthers behind Jonathan Huberdeau and Sasha Barkov. // File Photos

When Aaron Ekblad showed up for the 2014 NHL Draft in Philadelphia, he had a good idea he would be the first overall pick. He was unsure whether it would be the Florida Panthers who selected him.

In the days leading up to the draft, general manager Dale Tallon made it known he would consider trading the top pick “for the right price.’’

After all, Tallon and the Panthers had already taken Jonathan Huberdeau third overall in 2011 and Sasha Barkov second in 2013.

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When the Panthers ran out the clock, it was apparent no deal was in place even though Philadelphia, Toronto, and Vancouver had made substantial offers.

Tallon strode to the podium at Wells Fargo Center, made his introductory comments, and announced the Panthers were “proud to select from the Ontario Hockey League” before pausing for effect.

The cameras panned to Ekblad.

“It was breathtaking,’’ Ekblad said, “to say the least.’’

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