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Panthers' Tallon will be flexible at 2015 draft: report

by NHL.com Staff / NHL.com

Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon will approach the 2015 NHL Draft with an open mind, he said Thursday on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio.

The Panthers have nine picks in the draft, including No. 11 in the first round.

"We have a list of candidates that if they all go before 11 we might think about doing something to gain more picks or prospects or assets by moving back," Tallon said. "Some teams have expressed interest in moving up. Other teams ahead of us have asked us if we're interested in moving up. It'll come down to draft day and sometimes these decisions are made at the table, minutes or seconds before it's your turn to make the call. You never know. You've got to be ready for all circumstances."

The Panthers were one of the younger teams in the League last season and have a few prospects that could be ready to move up to full-time NHL duty, among them forward Rocco Grimaldi, a second-round pick (No. 33) in the 2011 draft, and defenseman Michael Matheson, a 2012 first-round pick (No. 23).

At the 2014 draft the Panthers selected defenseman Aaron Ekblad with the first pick, but with four of their five other selections they picked forwards. However, with the depth of talent at the draft, Tallon would not commit to picking anything other than the best player available whenever it's their turn.

"We're excited," he said. "We think we'll get a really good player. We're always looking to get the best player at that position to fill our needs. We think we'll have a wonderful opportunity to get a goalie, defenseman or forward."

Among the forwards that could be available at No. 11 are Halifax Mooseheads right wing Timo Meier, Seattle Thunderbirds center Mathew Barzal and Youngstown Phantoms left wing Kyle Connor. If the Panthers elect to pick a defenseman, candidates could include Saint John Sea Dogs teammates Jakub Zboril and Thomas Chabot, and Gabriel Carlsson from Linkoping's junior team in Sweden.

No goaltender has been taken in the first round of the draft since 2012.

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