The Florida Panthers will have plenty of options when the clock starts ticking at the 2018 NHL Draft.
By virtue of a stellar second half and a 96-point finish, the Panthers enter Friday's first round at the American Airlines Center in Dallas with the 15th overall selection. Florida has never held the 15th pick in franchise history, but it's a spot that has over the years certainly produced an ample amount of talent, including Erik Karlsson (2008), Mike Bossy (1977) and Joe Sakic (1987).
In terms of what the Panthers are looking for in the first round, general manager Dale Tallon has said the team's approach to the draft hasn't changed much since his arrival in 2010. The club is simply looking to bring home the best player available, regardless of any positional needs.
"You just want the best players you can possibly get, that's our motto," he said.
So where will the Panthers go with their pick? Here's what some of the top outlets are saying.
USA TODAY's Pick: Joe Veleno, C, Drummondville (QMJHL)
USA TODAY's Take: "He's 6-foot-2, skates well, and plays with pace and determination. Generated 48 points in 33 games."
Yahoo's Pick: Bode Wilde, D, US National Development Team
Yahoo's Take: "Bode Wilde, defenseman (US National Development Team): Armed with one of the best hockey names in the draft, the 6-2, 196-pound Wilde has ideal size and skill set to match on the back end. Wilde is strong and durable with all of the key ingredients to be able to play big minutes in all situations, has an excellent first step to get into fast gear with his skating game and also boasts a big, booming shot to really check off all the boxes at defenseman. The Panthers made a nice step this season getting back into the playoffs, but they also showed that they still need help both up front and on the back end. Wilde would make a really nice acquisition in the middle of the first round for an organization that's done a really good job of collecting talent the past handful of years."
Sporting News' Pick: Barrett Hayton, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Sporting News' Take: "Hayton is another center whose two-way game and puck skills could find him drafted in the top 10. The question is whether or not Hayton has been the byproduct of a dominant team. The optics reveal a sure-mitted pivot with a quick, accurate shot who can pull off highlight-reel plays. The fact that he hasn't done so as a first-line player could help land him on the Panthers' lap."
SB Nation's Pick: Bode Wilde, D, US-U18 (NTDP)
SB Nation's Take: "In 2017-18 with the USNTDP U-18 team, Wilde scored 12 goals, added 29 assists and racked up 65 PIM in 61 games. In an additional 25 games for the USNTDP junior team, he produced 16 points (3G/13A) and finished with a +19 rating. Wilde was also member of the U.S. team that won bronze at the 2018 World Junior Championship in Buffalo. In seven tournament games against the best in world, Wilde didn't produce any points, but the experience will only benefit him in the future."
Newsday's Pick: Joel Farabee, LW, US-U18 (NTDP)
Newsday's Take: "The product of Cicero, New York, is one of the top, two-way forwards available and had 15 goals and 25 assists in 26 USHL games last season. He's committed to Boston University."
Sportsnet's Pick: Ty Dellandrea, C, Flint (OHL)
Sportnet'sTake: "No hesitations committing to Flint in tumultuous times. Good numbers on a weak team, and a fine showing at the U-18."
TSN's Pick: Joe Veleno, C, Drummondville (QMJHL)
TSN's Take: "Very industrious, diligent centre who doesn't possess elite skills but will find ways to contribute in multiple areas."
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Serron Noel, RW, Oshawa (OHL)
Kimelman's Take: "Panthers general manager Dale Tallon likes to find bigger players who can skate (Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Henrik Borgstrom), making Noel an ideal choice. The son of a former Canadian Football League player, his smarts and athleticism will allow him to add strength without sacrificing the speed that makes him an appealing prospect."
Mike G. Morreale's Pick: Bode Wilde, D, US-U18 (NTDP)
Morreale's Take: "The 6-2, 195-pound right-shot defenseman had 41 points (12 goals, 29 assists) and a plus-35 rating in 61 games. Committed to the University of Michigan in 2018-19, Wilde is skilled, tough and has a good shot from the point. The Panthers need to replenish their defensemen prospects."
Guillaume Lepage's Pick: Rasmus Kupari, C, Karpat (FIN)
Lepage's Take: "Kupari (6-1, 183) has impressive offensive skills, and the Panthers won't overlook a center of his caliber available beyond the top 10. Florida already boasts a top Finland-born center, Barkov, and Kupari could be their next one."