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Ekblad top draft pick

AP

Florida selected Aaron Ekblad with the first pick in the NHL draft on Friday, making him the first defenseman to go No. 1 since St. Louis took Erik Johnson in 2006.

“I want that burden of expectation,” Ekblad said. “I want that feel for motivation and I want to succeed under that.”

The Panthers had a top-three pick in the NHL draft for the fourth time in the past five years.

The first three — defenseman Erik Gudbranson (in 2010), wing Jonathan Huberdeau (2011) and center Aleksander Barkov (2013) — all played significant roles last season. Florida also won the draft lottery in 2002 and 2003, but traded away those picks.