PHILADELPHIA -- Though it remains to be seen who will hear his name announced as the No. 1 choice at the 2014 NHL Draft in June, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is sure of one thing.
The city of Philadelphia will prove to be an outstanding host over the two-day event on June 27-28 at Wells Fargo Center.
Commissioner Bettman spoke about the upcoming draft during a media availability session prior to Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round series at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday.
"Philadelphia, from the outset, has always been a terrific hockey town," Bettman said. "When you look at the grassroots level, there were 14,000 or more kids who were playing in 50 rinks throughout greater Philadelphia. You look at Snider Hockey, which Ed Snider has created; you look at everything the Flyers have done in the community. When you look at the entry of youngsters, our new players, the future of the League coming into the draft, what better place than Philadelphia?"
It will be the first time the city and facility host the NHL Draft. NHL club executives, scouts and coaches will be present on the NHL Draft floor while more than 10,000 fans and 500 print, television and radio media are expected to attend.
Among the players who could hear their name called first are Kingston Frontenacs center Samuel Bennett, who was No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top draft-eligible North American skaters. He is followed by Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad at No. 2, Kootenay Ice center Sam Reinhart at No. 3, Prince Albert Raiders center Leon Draisaitl at No. 4 and Oshawa Generals left wing Michael Dal Colle at No. 5.
"With the hockey enthusiasm here, and the ability to hold major events in Philadelphia, we thought it was a natural fit," Bettman said. "We know that the city can host big events. We were here [at Citizens Bank Park in 2012] with the Winter Classic. We were here [in 2010] with the Stanley Cup Final. So all of the criteria for holding a major event are right here, and we're delighted to be working with the Flyers organization because everything they do is first class."
The NHL Draft has traditionally offered hockey fans an opportunity to witness the beginning of the careers of the latest NHL stars. Recent No. 1 picks include Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals, 2004), Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins, 2005), Erik Johnson (St. Louis Blues, 2006), Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks, 2007), Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning, 2008), John Tavares (New York Islanders, 2009), Taylor Hall (Edmonton Oilers, 2010), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton, 2011), Nail Yakupov (Edmonton, 2012) and Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche, 2013).