6 most important decisions that led to a Stanley Cup for the Florida Panthers

It took a long time for the Florida Panthers to build their Stanley Cup championship team. These are the six most important moves.
Florida Panthers v Montreal Canadiens
Florida Panthers v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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Taking Aaron Ekblad first overall in 2014 was a big key to their success

The Florida Panthers, one year after making the second overall pick, made the first overall pick in 2014. With that pick, they decided to go with Aaron Ekblad. It was a lot less cut-and-dry of a selection than it would be in most drafts. 

Although Ekblad may not be a Norris Trophy guy, he has been one of the 20 best defensemen in the league for a while now. He even won the Calder Trophy as the top rookie when he came in. 

Now, all these years later, he was one of the catalysts on this team. There are a few “number one defenseman” caliber guys on this team but Ekblad is the guy that they drafted and developed from scratch.

He was pivotal at different times for Florida throughout this run. He has contributed some offense here and there but the way he shuts down opposing players has been remarkable.

When you go up against guys like Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Artemi Panarin, David Pastrnak, Leon Draisaitl, and Connor McDavid while limiting them all for the most part, you know you did your job well. Ekblad should be very proud of where his game has taken him over the years.