It may still be a ways off, but the NHL announced today that the Florida Panthers will be hosting the 2015 NHL Draft. The draft will take place at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL, on June 26th and 27th, 2015.
“The Draft is where the future of the NHL begins to take shape, and the BB&T Center is an ideal setting in which to enjoy the excitement as we welcome our next generation of stars,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “Vinnie Viola, Doug Cifu, Michael Yormark, the Panthers’ fans and the South Florida community will be outstanding hosts to our Clubs, our media and our incoming class of 2015 draftees.”
This will not be the first time the NHL Draft has taken place in Florida. In fact, former Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk was selected as the number one overall pick at the 2001 draft hosted by the Panthers.
The 2015 draft will more than likely feature Connor McDavid as the top selection. McDavid is currently 17 years old and is a stand out center for the Erie Otters of the OHL. This season he has picked up 15 goals and added 43 helpers for 58 points in 34 games.
While its a bit early to predict which team will be fortunate enough to land McDavid, the Florida Panthers may be in the running. The Panthers 43 points thus far in the 2013-14 season leave them slightly above Edmonton, Calgary, and Buffalo. They are also tied with the Islanders.
A year from now, the Florida Panthers could have plenty of motivation to throw an entire season away. Hosting the NHL Draft and landing the #1 overall pick would be great press for the team, and would certainly help in their rebuild efforts.
If not Florida, the aforementioned Oilers, Flames and Sabres will all be contenders for the top pick. Despite numerous high draft picks in recent years, the Oilers still have not found a way to get better. McDavid wouldn’t help the situation much there, so they’d be better off trading the pick. The Flames and Sabres could both use a solid young player on their squad, and one to help see to it that they turn things around.
My guess, however, is that somehow the stars align and the Panthers are able to acquire McDavid in front of their hometown fans. What do you guys think? Will McDavid become a Florida Panther in 2015? Or will he end up going somewhere else?