The 2014 draft is less than a week away and the Florida Panthers have a lot to think about in the coming days. Do they trade the pick? Do they keep it? Who to pick first overall? All of these answers will be answered starting June 27th at 7:00 PM. For the time being I decided to step into General Manager, Dale Tallon’s shoes and see who I would pick if given the choice. This draft is going to be extremely unpredictable as its not that deep of a draft class as previous years. My picks are below.
The Florida Panthers have 5 picks in this years draft:
RD 1: 1st overall
RD 2: 32nd overall
RD 4: 92nd overall
RD 5: 143rd overall
RD 7: 182nd overall
Round 1) D Aaron Ekblad: The choice here is an obvious one as it has been reported that the Panthers will select Ekblad if they cannot trade the pick for something they like. Drafting Ekblad could also fill an area of need, especially if the rumors of Brian Campbell asking for a trade are true. Ekblad can be put in any game situation whether it be even strength, on the power play, or on the peneltey kill and has been described as a less physical Shea Weber. Check out his stats here and highlights here.
Round 2) LW Brenden Lemieux: Brenden is the son of former NHLer Claude Lemieux and his game closely resembles his fathers. He’s one of those players that you hate to play against and would love to have on your team as he gets under the oppositions skin and is a physical player. Lemieux can also put the puck in the net as he scored 27 times for Barrie which made him one of the top scorers on team. Brendan has been described as a more offensively dangerous Matt Cooke and he has been described as Chris Kunitz. Check out his stats here and highlights here.
Round 4) D Blake Siebenaler: This pick might be a long-term project but it could pay off big in the long-haul. Siebenaler converted from a forward to a defenceman so his skating and puck handling ability, and offensive mindedness followed him. The defensive side of his game needs improvement as he was a -16 in the +/- department for Niagara last season. Siebenaler can develop into a power play quarterback for the team that drafts him as during his time with Niagra he was a staple on their power play. The only downside to this pick is that it will take time for Blake to develop into a full-time Dman. Blake has been compared to Pittsburgh defenceman, Paul Martin. If he does reach his potential, this pick would be a steal. Check out his stats here.
Round 5) LW Blake Clarke: Blake is just about everything you want in a power forward. He has the size as he stands at 6’1″ and weighs in at 190lbs, he has a north-south style to his game, has a wicked shot, and has an unbelievable compete level. However, he still needs improvement in his speed, and in his strength. Another area for concern is that Clarke was at once considered a first round pick but do to his poor last season with Brampton and Saginaw his draft stock has fallen. Check out his stats here and take a look at his highlights here.
Round 7) C/LW Alexis Pepin: With their final pick in the 2014 NHL Draft I have the Panthers taking the big winger from Olympiques of the QMJHL. Pepin is another big, physical player at 6’2″, 238lbs and he has a good balance of grit and competitiveness which makes him reliable at both ends of the rink. Pepin is also a good skater but he does lack quick feet. Pepin has been compared to Beniot Pouliot by some and for being a projected late round pick, that’s no bad at all. Check out his stats here and his highlights here.
What do you think about my picks? Anyone you thought I missed?Give us your thoughts in the comment section below and follow us @FANSIDEDTHERAT for all your Florida Panther news. Thanks for reading!