What every Panthers fan hoped for but knew deep inside was impossible has happened. The Florida Panthers won the 2014 NHL Draft Lottery and therefore were awarded the right to go to Philadelphia in June and be the first to pick from the new crop of players wishing to make a living from playing in the NHL.
I was having a hard time going to sleep during the nights of the 12th, 13th and 14th as my mind refused to rest and thought it was a better idea to imagine what it would be like if the Panthers held the number 1 pick in this year’s draft.
Luckily for the sake of me sleeping well, as I was leaving work on the 15th I get the notification on my phone that the Panthers had won the draft lottery.
Finally! A consolation prize for the horrible hockey that we have seen from this team for the past many years. Don’t get me wrong, just like Dale Tallon said, “we didn’t lose last year in the draft as we picked up Aleksander Barkov” but picking first is just something that all Panthers fans feel is justice to heal us from losing.
So now what? What we thought this team deserved is finally here.
I couldn’t help but start looking online for anything I could find referring to the Panthers’ draft pick and what I found was a lot of people saying to trade the pick or pick a defensemen. Two ideas, that in my honest and humble opinion, find terrible. Of those two though certainly there would be nothing more detrimental to this organization’s progress than to trade the pick away.
I’ll try to elaborate more about not drafting someone named Aaron Ekblad in future posts but I’ll focus on not trading this pick away in this one.
Let me just start by saying this. It is a slap in the face of all Panthers fans to trade this pick away. After all the pain and suffering that this team has been through. After getting the most coveted spot in the draft no matter how successful your season is. For this team to trade away the first pick is to literally send a message of “I don’t care about turning this team into a winning team.”
I rather the Panthers pick Aaron Ekblad than to trade this pick away. At least that way there is history to back up that decision.
Which team was the last team to trade the number 1 pick? Yup, your Florida Panthers. Not once, but twice. Once in 2002 and again in 2003. All of that to acquire Jay Bouwmeester and Nathan Horton. Two players who are no longer with the organization and didn’t see one playoff minute as a Cat either.
After that no team that held the first pick traded the pick away. Is that going to change this year? Are we going for the Hat Trick? I sure hope not.
What is even more special about the Panthers first overall draft pick is that it follows a draft in which the Panthers drafted 2nd overall. What does recent history have to say about a situation like that?
In 2006 the Chicago Blackhawks drafted C Jonathan Toews with their 3rd pick. They were awarded the 1st pick in the 2007 draft. Dale Tallon used the top pick to select RW Patrick Kane. I mentioned Dale Tallon on purpose because hopefully he repeats this year what he did in 2007.
I think I can say those 2 teams have been very successful since then.
The Edmonton Oilers had 3 straight drafts holding the number 1 pick. None of which were traded. Now they certainly haven’t experienced the success the Penguins and the Blackhawks have since their respective 1-2 punch in the drafts, but no one can deny their tremendous upside potential.
This team needs to be an offensive power. It’s how you will get the BB&T Center to fill up on a nightly basis. It’s what will bring the crowd into the arena. It’s also what will help the big centers on this team.
There is however one situation of a trade that I “might” be in support of. If the Edmonton Oilers want Aaron Ekblad (which is very possible), maybe trading the 1st pick for the Oiler’s 3rd along with Jordan Eberle might be interesting for the Florida Panthers. That would mean the Panthers acquire a highly skilled RW and would still draft one of the following forwards: Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart, Michael Dal Colle or Nikolaj Ehlers. That is the only scenario I see being beneficial for the Panthers to engage in a trade (that deals away their 1st pick).
However, that would depend on how much the Oilers want Ekblad. Is it too farfetched? I don’t know. If the Oilers want, I would be in support of throwing in RW Brad Boyes in the package as well that way it can provide them with some type of replacement for the RW position they would need to fill.
If that trade isn’t available, than to me it’s very simple, there will be no trading our 1st pick. No trading to the Anaheim Ducks for their 2 first round picks. No trading for pieces on defense. All of that I personally think would set back the development of this organization.