With six draft picks, including the first overall selection, the Florida Panthers continued to add prospects to an already deep pool of young talent on July 27-28 in Philadelphia. When Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon stepped up to the podium to select first, he had a bit of fun at the expense of the audience as he took his time to announce that D Aaron Ekblad would be the newest Panther.
Pick #1 – D Aaron Ekblad (Barrie Colts – OHL)
NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 2 (North America)
Selected: First Round – First Overall
Selected with the first pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, expectations were high for the 18-year old defenseman and it didn’t take very long for him to exceed those expectations. Playing well beyond his years, Ekblad completed the season leading Florida’s defensemen in scoring while also setting franchise rookie defenseman records for goals (12), assists (27) and points (39).
Ekblad’s 39 points is the third-highest point total earned by an 18-year old rookie defenseman of all-time. Phil Housley (66 points, 1982-83) and Bobby Orr (41 points, 1966-67) rank first and second respectively.
Named a finalist for the 2015 Calder Memorial Trophy, Ekblad has a chance to become the second Panther in three seasons to win the Calder Trophy, following Jonathan Huberdeau (2013).
Pick #2 – F Jayce Hawryluk (Brandon Wheat Kings - WHL)
NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 37 (North America)
Selected: Second Round - 32nd overall
The Panthers’ second round choice of the 2015 Draft, is a high-energy player with the ability to contribute well at both ends of the ice. Both skill sets were on display as Hawryluk enjoyed a solid season with the Wheat Kings, recording WHL career-highs in goals (30), points (65) and plus/minus (+42).
Hawryluk went on to record 19 points (10-9—19) in 16 playoff games as he helped push Brandon into the WHL Finals against the Kelowna Rockets.
Pick #3 – F Juho Lammikko (Assat – FIN)
NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 14 (Europe)
Selected: Third Round – 65th overall
Without a pick in the third round of the Draft, Florida sent their 2015 third round draft pick to the New York Islanders in exchange for a 2014 third round pick. Now with a third round selection in hand, the Panthers chose Lammikko from Assat in the Finnish SM-Liiga.
Making the jump from Finland to North America, Lammikko spent the 2014-15 season with the Kingston Frontenacs (OHL). The 18-year old winger notched 44 points (18-26—44) and a +23 rating in 64 games.
Lammikko will return to Assat to play the 2015-16 season.
There’s also this gem:
Pick #4 – F Joe Wegwerth (USA U-18 – USHL)
NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 139 (North America)
Selected: Fourth Round – 92nd Overall
The Panthers added some size with their 6’3”, 230-pound, fourth round pick. The towering winger Wegwerth notched 21 points (5-16—21) and 59 penalty minutes in 35 games with the Green Bay Gamblers (USHL), before a trade sent him to the Cedar Rapids Roughriders. Wegwerth notched nine points (4-5—9) and 38 penalty minutes in 24 games with Cedar Rapids.
Wegwerth is committed to University of Notre Dame for the 2015-16 season.
Pick #5 – F Miguel Fidler (Edina High –High-MN)
NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 133 (North America)
Selected: Fifth Round – 143rd overall
Fidler was selected by Florida out of Edina High School in Minnesota. The Edina, MN native notched 21 points (5-16—21) in 45 games with the Lincoln Stars (USHL) before being acquired by the Madison Capitals and notching six points (2-4—6) in 15 games.
Fidler is committed to The Ohio State University for the 2015-16 season.
Photo Courtesy of Pucksnack.com
Pick #6 – G Hugo Fagerblom (Frolunda U18– SWE-Jr. U18)
NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: N/A
Selected: Seventh Round – 182nd overall
Without a sixth round pick, the Panthers next pick came in the seventh round as the team selected the relatively unknown Fagerblom out of Frolunda’s U18 program. With a 6’6”, 207 lb. frame, Fagerblom possesses the size that teams covet in goaltenders. Still at the early stages of development, Fagerblom was impressive when called upon for Frolunda’s U20 team, appearing in 11 games, posting a 5-3-0 record.
Fagerblom appeared in three games for Boras HC of the third-tier Hockeyettan league last season and notched a 2.33 goals against average and a .920 save percentage during his stint with Boras.