Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center, the first round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft took place and I was there. I was lucky enough to get great seats in the second level of the arena but only two rows back so it yielded a great view of the entire draft floor. Each team had a table set up with all of its executives, coaches, scouts, and general managers sitting and talking with each other. The media had its own sections in the four corners of the floor with media members from the US, Canada and even some European countries. It was a sight to see.
Things got off to a great start when Flyers fans gave every team a less than warm welcome and rained down “boos” as their names were announced for roll call. Obviously, when the hometown Flyers were called the crowd erupted in cheers and “Let’s go Flyers!” chants. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman then came out to announce the start of the Draft. He was greeted not just by the Flyers fans, but by all the hockey fans booing him to the point where you couldn’t hear anything he was saying into the microphone. Welcome to Philadelphia Mr. Bettman.
Now, here are the first few picks in the Draft:
- Aaron Ekblad: defensemen from the Barrie Colts went to the Florida Panthers
- Sam Reinhart: center from the Kootenay Ice went to the Buffalo Sabres
- Leon Draisaitl: center from the Prince Albert Raiders went to the Edmonton Oilers
- Samuel Bennett: center from the Kingston Frontenacs went to the Calgary Flames
- Michael Dal Colle: left wing from the Oshawa Generals went to the New York Islanders
Aside from the top five picks, when it was time for the Flyers to use their pick, I was not disappointed. Philadelphia took Travis Sanheim with the seventeenth overall pick in the Draft. Sanheim is a defenseman with the Calgary Hitmen who is a good puck mover, a big guy at 6 foot 3 inches, and has the potential to be a top four defenseman on the Flyers. His rank in the scouting reports went from 167 to 53 so he is considered a sleeper among skaters. Sanheim could be the next big thing in Philly when he is NHL ready.
Overall, going to the Draft was a great experience for me as a hockey fan and a writer. Each team was allowed to select the next building block of their future and lots of great players were picked. For more coverage of the Draft go to www.nhl.com.