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Florida Panthers Clinch No. 1 Pick in 2014 NHL Draft

Apr 16 2014, 2:00am CDT | by , in News

Florida Panthers Clinch No. 1 Pick in 2014 NHL Draft
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The Florida Panthers won the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL Draft Lottery on April 15. The draft will be from June 27-28 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa.

The Florida Panthers won the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL Draft Lottery on April 15.

According to the Panthers' official website, the last time the team secured the No. 1 pick was in 1994 when it chose defenseman Ed Jovanovski. Twenty years later, Florida gets another shot at redemption: 

"It's been 20 years since the Florida Panthers headed to the NHL Draft with the No. 1 selection, but they will do so this summer in Philadelphia.

"The Panthers will pick first in the 2014 NHL Draft after winning the lottery Tuesday. As the 29th-place team in the final 2013-14 NHL standings, the Panthers entered with an 18.8 percent chance (second best) of getting the No. 1 pick. 

"The Buffalo Sabres had the best chance to win the lottery (25 percent) based on their 30th-place finish but will pick second.

"The draft will be held June 27-28 at Wells Fargo Center, with the Philadelphia Flyers as host. It will be the first time the Panthers have the No. 1 pick since 1994, when they selected defenseman Ed Jovanovski. 

"Florida won the lottery in 2002 and 2003 but each year it traded the pick prior to the draft."

Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola told TSN (via Panthers.NHL.com),"It means a lot to us; we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on (our) top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high." 

Viola, son of Panthers owner Vinnie Viola, also told Steve Gorten of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel in the draft lottery's aftermath that Florida will look into all possible options to build on its existing nucleus. 

"We are pleased to have the No. 1 selection. 

"With the No. 1 pick, we will explore all of our team's options and make the best decision that adds to our young nucleus or talent that includes Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Erik Gudbrandson and Jonathan Huberdeau." 

Two possible options for the Panthers include defenseman Aaron Ekblad of the Ontario Hockey League's Barrie Colts and center Sam Reinhart of the Western Hockey League's Kootenay Ice, per the team's official website.

On the other hand, Sabres general manager Tim Murray told Chris Ryndak of the team's official website he's not disappointed with the outcome of the draft lottery. 

"I'm not disappointed. I mean, we had a 25 percent chance driving up here. We talked about it. This is kind of -- with the new rule where anybody can move to one and not just four spots -- it's kind of what I was expecting.

"I don't have a preference. If it's this year, we know where they are this year. We know it's a Top 5 pick this year so we know we're going to get a hell of a player." 

Gorten also stresses this is the third straight year that the team with the second-best chance of securing the No. 1 pick has emerged victorious. 

In 2013, that team was the Colorado Avalanche, who chose Nathan MacKinnon first overall. The Panthers wound up with Barkov at No. 2. 

Florida also owns the 32nd overall pick in the seventh round as well as three more selections in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds, per The South Florida Sun-Sentinel update. 

 

Here are the top 13 selections in June's NHL Draft, according to the Panthers' official website:

1. Florida Panthers

2. Buffalo Sabres

3. Edmonton Oilers

4. Calgary Flames

5. New York Islanders

6. Vancouver Canucks 

7. Carolina Hurricanes

8. Toronto Maple Leafs

9. Winnipeg Jets

10. Anaheim Ducks (from Ottawa Senators)

11. Nashville Predators

12. Phoenix Coyotes

13. Washington Capitals 

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