The NHL Draft is only a few weeks away, and the Florida Panthers are in the driver’s seat. The Panthers “earned” the top draft pick by being among the worst teams in the NHL. Despite their poor finish it seems like they are in a win, win situation.
Florida has fielded phone calls from several teams, and there was a report that they received a fair offer for the top spot. It really will not matter if the Panthers make a deal or not. They stand to gain a very talented player either way. The main question in Florida should be do we want to build around an 18-year-old, or do we want to make the trade and work with a slightly older player?
Among reports was one saying Florida could be eying Aaron Ekblad. Teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers would be my guess to have made a phone call inquiring about moving up. Edmonton is in the third spot, and this season that could be no man’s land. They will get a good player, but they need a top defenseman on the roster, one they can have on the ice for another 10-12 years. The Maple Leafs have been rumored to be very interested in the Panthers top pick. Frankly I’m not sure if the Maple Leafs have the “juice” to make that move, but it is Toronto and anything is possible.
It’s all up to the Panthers, but they need to hit on this. The 2014 Draft could rebuild a failing franchise, or it could completely dismantle a fan base. I believe the Panthers will get better, but if you pick, or trade the number one over all you had better get good.