NHL Draft 2014: Will the Florida Panthers trade the No. 1 overall pick?

Bruce Bennett

It's been more than a decade since a team traded out of the top spot in the NHL draft. Will the Florida Panthers do it before Friday night?

The last two times the Florida Panthers occupied the top spot in the NHL draft they ended up trading out of it.

In 2003 they selected Nathan Horton No. 3 overall after working out a deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins so they could select Marc-Andre Fleury. That came just one year after they made a similar move with the Columbus Blue Jackets and ended up selecting defenseman Jay Bouwmeester in the same spot (Columbus ended up taking Rick Nash with their newly acquired No. 1 overall pick).

Those two trades were also the last two times a team moved out of the top spot with a draft day trade.

Will history repeat itself with the Panthers on Friday night?

Like any general manager in his position, Dale Tallon has said that the pick is available for the right price. What the price would be, however, remains to be seen. The rumor mill has been churning over the past couple of weeks and teams from Toronto to Philadelphia have been rumored to be interested in making a move for the pick.

If there's an issue in trying to make a move it might be for the very same reason the Panthers themselves would be looking to move out of the top spot -- the fact there simply does not seem to be a clear cut No. 1 overall pick. If the Panthers hold on to the pick they seem to be leaning toward defenseman Aaron Ekblad. With no can't miss player at the top of every team's draft board it might be difficult to get an offer that makes dealing the pick worth it if you're the Panthers, unless some team absolutely fell in love with a forward like Sam Bennett or Sam Reinhart.

It's the first big decision in what is sure to be an important offseason for the direction of Panthers' franchise. Stuck at the bottom of the NHL for most of the past decade, the Panthers need to do something to change their fortunes on the ice. They have an impressive collection of young players starting to hit the NHL, and last year completed the blockbuster move with the Vancouver Canucks to re-acquire Roberto Luongo, giving the team a clear No. 1 goalie and perhaps shifting them from a team in a rebuilding mode to a team in a "win now" mode.

Based on that, it would seem that any potential trade involving the top pick would almost need to involve an NHL player or two going to Florida. And those types of trades rarely happen involving the top pick in the draft.

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