The Florida Panthers selected defenseman Aaron Ekblad with the first overall pick of the 2014 NHL Draft on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Barrie captain was named the Ontario Hockey League Most Outstanding Defenseman in 2013-14, leading all players at his position with 23 goals and finishing tied for fifth with 53 points.
At 6 feet 3, 213 pounds, the Windsor, Ontario, native has the size and skating ability to compete for a roster spot immediately. He is considered the most NHL-ready player in this year's draft.
Center Sam Reinhart was selected second overall by the Buffalo Sabres. From North Vancouver,British Columbia, Reinhart led Kootenay with 105 points in 60 games during the 2013-14 season. He was named 2013-14 Player of the Year at the annual WHL awards.
His father, Paul, was a standout defenseman for the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks in the 1980s and older brothers Max (Flames, 63rd overall in 2010) and Griffin (New York Islanders, 12th overall in 2012) were also drafted.
The Edmonton Oilers made center Leon Draisaitl the third overall pick and the earliest ever fromGermany. The 6-1, 208-pound native of Cologne had 105 points in 64 games for Prince Albert of the WHL last season and was considered to be the most NHL-ready forward in this year's draft.
Center Sam Bennett, who was ranked as the No. 1 skater among North American prospects, went fourth overall to the Flames. The Holland Landing, Ontario, native led Kingston of the OHL with 91 points in 57 games. Bennett was an assistant captain on Canada's gold-medal team at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial.
Islanders general manager Garth Snow expressed interest in shopping the fifth overall pick leading up to the draft but opted to select left winger Michael Dal Colle from the Oshawa Generals.
The 6-2, 182-pound native of Richmond Hill, Ontario, finished 2013-14 with 95 points in 67 games to lead Oshawa to first place in the Eastern Conference. He also scored the winning goal in the gold-medal game of the Ivan Hlinka Memorial.