With the draft quickly approaching, I thought it would be appropriate to take a look back at the Panthers’ first round draft picks since Dale Tallon replaced Randy Sexton in 2010. Read on for more on the first round draft picks of the Tallon era.
In 2010, Taylor Hall was the first overall pick and he went to the Edmonton Oilers. Meanwhile, the Panthers actually had three first round draft picks and they are all still fairly prominent in the Panthers community.
- Erik Gudbranson (Kingston Frontenacs – OHL) was the 3rd overall pick in the first round. This season, he had 4 goals and 9 assists for 13 points in 76 games but his skill and talent came more in his leadership.
- Nick Bjugstad (Minnesota Gophers – University of Minnesota) was the 19th overall pick in the first round. This pick was traded to the Panthers by the LA Kings. He had 24 goals and 19 assists for 43 points in 72 games and really showed his elite potential this season.
- Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw Warriors – WHL) was the 25th overall pick in the first round. This pick was traded to the Panthers by the Vancouver Canucks. Howden played a few games in the 2012-2013 season and in the 2013-2014 season but stuck to the AHL this season for 33 games because he was sidelined by injury.
In 2011, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was the first overall pick and he went to the Edmonton Oilers. The Panthers, however, got a more valuable player in Jonathan Huberdeau.
- Jonathan Huberdeau (St. John Sea Dogs – QMJHL) was the 3rd overall pick in the first round. This season, Huberdeau was the leading points scorer for the Panthers with 15 goals and 39 assists for 54 points in 79 games.
In 2012, Nail Yakupov was the first overall pick and he went to the Edmonton Oilers (are you seeing a trend here?). The Panthers made the playoffs in the previous season so their draft pick was not as high as it had been in previous years, for better or for worse.
- Michael Matheson (Dubuque Fighting Saints – USHL) was the 23rd overall pick in the first round. He just signed a deal with the Panthers on April 1 and left his Boston College team to finish the season with the San Antonio Rampage. I expect to see him up in the NHL soon enough.
In 2013, Nathan MacKinnon was the first overall pick and he went to the Colorado Avalanche. The Panthers, who felt they were shorted of the first pick, made a bold and initially controversial choice with their first round pick but it eventually paid off in a big way.
- Aleksander Barkov (Tappara Liiga – Finland) was the 2nd overall pick in the first round. This season, he found his stride with Jonathan Huberdeau and Jaromir Jagr later in the season and ended with 16 goals and 20 assists for 36 points in 71 games.
Last year, the Panthers were lucky enough to get the number one pick in the draft. For lack of better words to describe the situation, it was awesome.
- Aaron Ekblad (Barrie Colts – OHL) was the 1st overall pick in the first round. Last season, he had 12 goals and 27 assists for 39 points in 81 games. He missed only one game last season and that was because of illness. His performance this season was incredible, so much so that next week, he may receive the Calder Trophy for the best rookie in the 2014-2015 season.
Next week (June 26 – 27), we will find out who the Panthers choose, if anybody, for their 11th overall pick in the first round. We have speculated about who it could be but we will not really know until it happens. Yet, with Dale Tallon in charge, I remain confident that the correct decision will be made.
To see some of our theories about who the Panthers may choose for their pick, you may click the links below to read our mock drafts: