NHL prospect Aaron Ekblad knows the last defenseman to be drafted No. 1 overall. When asked that bit of trivia, without hesitation, he answers Erik Johnson.
“A long time ago,” Ekblad said when we chatted at the NHL’s draft combine last week.
Maybe to an 18-year-old kid, 2006 seems like a long time ago. To some of us, it doesn’t seem all that long since Johnson was selected No. 1 overall over guys like Jordan Staal, Jonathan Toews and Nicklas Backstrom.
Ekblad's right. Since then, there hasn’t been a defenseman picked in that spot.
There’s a case that Ryan Murray should have gone there in 2012. Watching Drew Doughty perform in these playoffs at least introduces the debate as to whether or not he’d be the better pick over Steven Stamkos, although nobody in Tampa is complaining about having a 60-goal scorer as their cornerstone player.
It’s been awhile, but it’s looking more and more like the defenseman draft drought is going to end in June.
The Florida Panthers hold the No. 1 pick but are currently entertaining trade offers for it and there’s interest.