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Draft Memories: Keaton Ellerby

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Tenth overall pick Keaton Ellerby of the Florida Panthers poses onstage with former G.M. Jacques Martin and director of scouting Scott Luce after being drafted in the first round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft at Nationwide Arena on June 22, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Panthers held the tenth overall selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft held in Columbus, Ohio.

Florida used their selection on the No. 4 ranked North American skater according to Central Scouting's final rankings, Keaton Ellerby. The smooth-skating 6'4, 160 lb defenseman from the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League posted 25 points (two goals) in 69 contests and showed a feisty side to his game after recording 120 penalty minutes.

After one more season in juniors, Ellerby made the jump to the pros. After a full season in Rochester (AHL), he split the 2009-10 season between Rochester and Florida before spending the majority of this past season in Sunrise. There he posted his first point (Oct. 23 against the Islanders) and first goal (Jan. 25 at the NY Rangers) on his way to recording 12 points (two goals) in 54 games with the Panthers. Ellerby reflects back on the June afternoon when his name was called as well as the entire draft process on his way to becoming a Panther You were rated pretty high from Central Scouting. What was the whole draft process like for you?

Ellerby: "It was fun; it was nerve wracking. It was a whole bunch of different emotions. Throughout the year it was just something that you heard about and didn’t really know what to expect. I came down to the combine and the meetings, it’s definitely nerve wracking - being a young kid and coming in and testing and talking to these big NHL guys. It was a good experience and I have a lot of good memories from that year. It seems like a long time ago now, but it was definitely a good experience." Is there any one question that teams asked at the combine that threw you off?

Ellerby: Laughs. "I don’t really know. There were so many questions, so many meetings." What was the testing like? Guys say that the wind gate and VO2 are the toughest. Is that true?

"Yeah definitely, I think that’s the toughest for everybody. Those rotten bikes are pretty hard to power through with all that tension on them. You just wanted to go in and do as good as you can. I think the adrenaline that’s going through your body at the time makes it a little easier to get through. But those are definitely two of the toughest tests I’ve ever done, still to this day. It was quite the thing, especially at 17-years old. It was tough, but a good experience – having NHL GMs, coaches and scouts watching you and seeing what you can do. Talk a little about the pre-draft meetings – how much contact did you have with Florida?

Ellerby: "I think I had two or three meetings with Florida. One at the combine and then another right before the draft, which was a longer meeting (I think it took up two time slots). I had some good contacts and good talks with them, and I think my agent had good talks with them. So leading up to the draft I think I had a little bit of an idea that if I was around at their pick that I might go there. But the whole thing was just a cool experience. It was a really unique time and I had a lot of fun going through it." Had you ever been to Columbus before? What was your experience like?

Ellerby: "Yeah, I had never been there so it was kind of cool. We went to see Ohio State and saw the football stadium. I couldn’t believe how big that place was. We checked out the campus a little bit and took some time to tour around and check the city out. Leading up to the time that I got drafted, it was pretty nerve wracking. It felt like it went on forever. But when my name got called, it was one of the coolest experiences of my life, so far. It was an awesome time." You had an idea Florida was interested in you. Were you surprised you lasted that long, since you were ranked 4th for N.A. Skaters by Central Scouting?

Ellerby: "I don’t think I was surprised. It’s what teams want and whatever team picking picked the guy they wanted. Not something to be surprised at. It’s not like it went on a while. Finally, at ten, I was super excited, and I thought I had some really good talks with Florida. When they went up and chose me, it was awesome." Did you have a lot of family there, going through the process with you?

Ellerby: "Yeah I had my mom, dad, sister, one of my grandmas, an uncle, an aunt and my best buddy from back home." Were you able to make any close friends through the whole process with any other draft picks?

Ellerby: "Yeah for sure. Before the draft they did something where they took some of us to Anaheim, when they played Ottawa in the Stanley Cup Finals. There was myself, Karl Alzner (picked by Washington), Sam Gagner (Edmonton), James van Riemsdyk (Philadelphia), Patrick Kane (Chicago) and Kyle Turris (Phoenix). So that was cool to get to know some of those guys. I knew other guys throughout the draft that got drafted as well. It’s just a cool thing to be able to go through with guys that you’ve grown up playing with and against." After you were drafted, what was the whole media blitz like?

Ellerby: "Being so young and playing in a small town for junior, you’re not really used to the whole media hype. So, when you get picked and there are 20 or 30 or 40 people down there underneath the stands asking questions and taking pictures, it’s definitely a new experience. I guess you kind of get used to it now. At that time it was something new and I didn’t really know what to expect. That’s a cool part of it, when you’re so young and you get to see how big the media is throughout the game." So, where’s your draft jersey now?

Ellerby: "My draft jersey is at my parent’s house hanging up, I think." Where does being drafted rank in your hockey career?

Ellerby: "It’s definitely up there. Obviously, playing your first game and getting your first goal and that kind of thing is up there. But yeah, getting drafted by the team that you’re playing for is definitely right up there with everything else. It’s where your career starts. It’s right at the top of the list for most exciting and best times of my career so far."
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