Fri Jun 25 10:54am EDT
We don't know for sure how the first two picks will go Friday night, but we do know that Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin will definitely be members of either the Edmonton Oilers or Boston Bruins by 8 p.m. ET. What is still up in the air at the moment is whom Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon decides to take with the No. 3 pick.
Defensemen Cam Fowler and Erik Gudbranson will be there and all signs point to the Panthers looking to take a blue liner with their first pick for the third time in four years. Fowler is the offensive defenseman that could replace Jay Bouwmeester, who departed for Calgary last summer. Gudbranson, on the other hand, is a physical, defensive-minded presence and is the profile of a defenseman that Tallon favors.
A third defenseman, Brandon Gormley, has been brought up in connection with the third slot and met with the Panthers on Thursday, but according to both Steve Gorten of the Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald's George Richards, Gudbranson will be the name that Tallon announces after the Taylor/Tyler hype dies down.
What's a little more uncertain is where Florida's pick at No. 15 might go. Acquired from the Boston Bruins earlier in the week as part of the Nathan Horton(notes) deal, there's speculation Tallon could package that for either a player or to move up in the draft.
And with so much depth in the draft, Tallon said, noting there are "a lot of similarities" between players rated No. 3 to 50 on the Panthers' draft board, "we might be able to move back and still get the same type of player and an additional pick or two for this year or next year."
Tallon said his plan is to "continue to stockpile picks."
In getting the No. 15, he already has added the first-rounder Luce said Tallon wanted after becoming GM last month. The Panthers have five of the first 50 picks in this year's draft, including four of the first 36.
"Our future looks very bright if we have a good draft," Tallon said. "We're utilizing everything in our disposal to make sure we have a successful draft that will put us in the right direction. ... Worst-case scenario, we've got five of the first 50 players. But we're going to explore every avenue. "
As with every draft, the most exciting parts are when commissioner Gary Bettman steps to the podium and utters, "We have a trade to announce." With four teams having a pair of first-round picks and nine teams having multiple selections in the second round, there should be a lot of movement this weekend. Factor in the possibility of the rights of some upcoming unrestricted free agents being moved and this weekend in Los Angeles is setting up to be a very busy one around the NHL.