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Florida Panthers select defenceman Aaron Ekblad with No. 1 pick in NHL draft

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PHILADELPHIA - The Florida Panthers have selected defenceman Aaron Ekblad with the first pick in the NHL draft.

The 6-foot-4, 214-pound Ekblad played for Barrie in the Ontario Hockey League. He is the first defenceman to go No. 1 since St. Louis took Erik Johnson in 2006.

Without a clear cut No. 1, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon was open to trading the pick. In the end, he decided to take the 18-year-old defenceman with the first selection at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Panthers had a top-three pick in the NHL draft for the fourth time in the past five years. The first three ? defenceman Erik Gudbranson (in 2010), wing Jonathan Huberdeau (2011) and centre Aleksander Barkov (2013) ? all played significant roles last season.

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