NHL Draft 2014: Viewing Info and Last-Minute Storylines to Follow for Round 1

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVJune 27, 2014

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 26: Aaron Ekblad attends the 2014 NHL Draft - Top Prospects Media Availability event on June 26, 2014 at The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The 2014 NHL draft is finally here, and all 30 teams—especially those with lottery picks—will begin the two-day process of making serious young additions to their talent pools.

There's certainly no shortage of talent to choose from. Just like last year, there are three or four can't-miss prospects at the top of the board who stand out from the rest. But also just like last year, the potential doesn't end there as the class is deep with star talent long into the first round.

The draft is right around the corner, so let's break down everything you need to know to be ready for Round 1—set to unfold on Friday night.


2014 NHL Draft

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia

When: Friday, June 27 at 7 p.m. ET

TV: NBC Sports Network

Live Stream: NBC Live Extra


Round 1 Order

2014 NHL Draft: Round 1 Order
1Florida Panthers
2Buffalo Sabres
3Edmonton Oilers
4Calgary Flames
5New York Islanders
6Vancouver Canucks
7Carolina Hurricanes
8Toronto Maple Leafs
9Winnipeg Jets
10Anaheim Ducks (From Ottawa)
11Nashville Predators
12Phoenix Coyotes
13Washington Capitals
14Dallas Stars
15Detroit Red Wings
16Columbus Blue Jackets
17Philadelphia Flyers
18Minnesota Wild
19Tampa Bay Lightning
20San Jose Sharks
21St. Louis Blues (Conditional to Buffalo)
22Pittsburgh Penguins
23Colorado Avalanche
24Anaheim Ducks
25Boston Bruins
26Montreal Canadiens
27Chicago Blackhawks
28Tampa Bay Lightning (From New York Rangers)
29Los Angeles Kings
30New Jersey Devils

Note: Complete seven-round draft order available on NHL.com.


Pre-Draft Storylines

Will Aaron Ekblad Break Trend at No. 1?

Since 2006, no defenseman has been taken with the top overall pick in the NHL draft.

But Aaron Ekblad looks like he will change that by the end of Friday night. The 18-year-old Barrie Colts (OHL) star has the prototypical size and ability on the blue line to be a first-line defenseman on a talented roster, if not a franchise player.

Although his ability to play stout and strong on defense is his biggest calling, Ekblad is dangerous on the offensive end as well. He scored 23 goals and added 30 assists in his final season in the OHL and netted a masterful plus-29 rating along with 17 playoff points in 2012-13.

But that doesn't mean he's a lock to go to the Panthers at No. 1, per Fox Sports Florida's Steve Goldstein:

There is a noticeable top tier of prospects in this year's class that will be dissected below, but Ekblad is the cream of the crop. The draft hasn't seen a defenseman taken first since 2006, but that doesn't mean the value of a top-flight blueliner is any lower.

Whether it's to Florida or another team that trades for the top pick, expect Ekblad to break the trend of forwards being selected at No. 1 overall on Friday.


Which of the "Fab Four" Will Become Face of Class?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 26: Sam Reinhart attends the 2014 NHL Draft - Top Prospects Media Availability event on June 26, 2014 at The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Ekblad isn't alone among top prospects in this year's class that have the potential of being the best to come out of the 2014 draft when their careers are over.

Realistically, the best four prospects in the class are Ekblad, Leon Draisaitl, Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett. But as the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson noted, none stand out as a franchise player:

And this year, the Fab Four — the two Sams, Bennett and Reinhart, book-ending another centre, Neon Leon Draisaitl, and a man-boy, defenceman Aaron Ekblad, who’d have no trouble growing one of those lumberjack playoff beards despite being only 18.

Are they “franchise-defining players,” to use TSN scouting guru and former NHL GM Craig Button’s words? No. They are excellent kids, but there’s no Steven Stamkos here. No Drew Doughty. No Patrick Kane. Or farther back, no Sidney Crosby nor Mario Lemieux.

It shouldn't be too much of a knockout blow to anyone that there is no Crosby or Lemieux in this class. After all, players like that only come around so often.

However, that doesn't mean the 2014 class has any less potential. Reinhart can take over games with his pure skill, Draisaitl has great size and speed for his position and Bennett is loaded with potential.

But it will still be worth following to see who ends up as the top pick in the class. With this many players who are capable of being the best, the team at No. 3 or No. 4 could end up with the most impressive pick when we dissect this class again in the coming years.


Trades Running Rampant

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Even with a class that boasts a number of ultra-talented players at the top and a number of promising high-potential prospects behind them, the hours leading up to the draft have been dominated by something else—trade talk surrounding some of the league's better players.

A move that likely won't be one-upped by any other deal throughout draft day is the one in the hours leading up to Friday night.

Vancouver Canucks' star forward Ryan Kesler was traded to Anaheim, per NHL.com's Dan Rosen:

And why not? With seven rounds of selections to deal and free agency looming, teams are flooded with assets on draft day unlike at any other moment.

Some NHL teams, like the Calgary Flames, are even asking their fans what they think of trade options:

While the Flames took a more cryptic approach in suggesting a possible trade at No. 4 overall, the Sabres—who select second—admitted days before the draft of some trade interest:

With teams at the top of the draft board exploring potentially moving their picks, there's no telling where the top tier of prospects will end up by the conclusion of Round 1. 

No player is safe on draft day. While there are obviously untouchable players on every roster, some of the aggressive teams will leave no stone unturned to make the deals they are looking for—even if it means dealing an important piece.

Trades can complicate a draft and leave it tough to comprehend, but the potential of deals will make this year's NHL draft even more exciting than it already guaranteed to be.


Follow Steven Cook on Twitter.


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