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Panthers, Avalanche Flip Spots But Cats To Still Get High Value

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers

It came down to two for the gold card.

Slowly opening the cards with the teams logos, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly put each of them in the spot in the order of where the first 12 teams finished. And with that it came down to two: Florida and Colorado who finished 30th and 29th in this shortened season.

Daly opened the gold, winning envelope and instead of a Panthers logo being shown to the audience, it was that of the Avalanche. With that, the teams flipped positions in the upcoming draft with Colorado picking first and Florida second.

"It was exciting," said Panthers GM Dale Tallon who was representing the franchise in Toronto along with four other team front office personnel for their respective teams. "It was fun and we were hopeful to get the pick."

With that, Colorado will kick off the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in New Jersey on June 30th. Tallon was hopeful that with the amount of injuries and roller coaster ride that the Panthers had weathered on their way to a 14-28-6 record this season, his team would hold how the draft plays out at the top of it. In a twist this season, all 14 teams had a chance at the Number one selection so to fall just a spot isn't the worst of it as many draft experts predict three-to-five high-end franchise type players.

"To weather some of the storm we had over the year. It would have lessened some of the pain," said Tallon to the media following the lottery. "But still we're going to get a hell of a player at the second pick overall and we'll just move on. We're going to get a great player to add to all the good young players we have."

Among those players is No. 1 North American skater defenseman Seth Jones. The son of former NBA player Popeye Jones, the 18-year old defenseman posted 56 points in 61 games for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. No. 2 and No. 3 North American skaters are linemates for the Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL). 17-year old center Nathan MacKinnon posted 75 points in 44 games, including 32 goals while recently turned 18-year old Jonathan Drouin recorded 105 points (41 goals) in 49 games. Aleksander Barkov who played for Tappara posted impressive numbers as a 17-year old while playing in Finland's top men's league with 48 points in 53 games.

"It's an exciting time to be picking first or second," said Tallon. "It would have been nice to pick first but second is pretty good too."

Tallon and his staff have seen the upcoming draft picks on numerous occasions and it will continue with next month's NHL Combine which is held the week of Memorial Day with interviews Monday-Thursday and the workout sessions on Friday-Saturday.

"We're really on course," said Tallon. "We're in good shape. The NHL combine is at the end of next month and we'll have our organizational meetings there. I've been watching the top three and have a good feel for who they are.''

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