We are less than 16 hours away from the start of the 2014 NHL draft and it should be an interesting first day. The first round will start today at 7 Eastern time, 6 Central and rounds 2-7 will continue Saturday morning. Here are some of the top stories heading into the draft.
Who will go number one? The Florida Panthers still hold on to the number 1 overall pick and it's starting to sound like it may stay that way. There have been a handful of teams who have sent offers to Florida for the first pick but Florida's management feels they aren't getting a fair deal in return in any of these offers. Florida needs help in all areas but defense is a huge hole that needs filling and Aaron Ekblad may be the guy Florida takes first overall.
Will Ryan Kesler be traded? This is a question fans were asking at last year's draft, but it never seemed to be a thought then. Kesler has made it clear that he wants to part ways with Vancouver and the feelings seem mutual between the two parties. The St Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks and Chicago seem to be the front runners for Kesler. No team wants to give up a first round pick but since Vancouver's asking price is so high, either of these teams may have to sacrifice their first round pick to add Kesler.
Where will Jason Spezza end up? Spezza is in the same boat as Kesler. He requested at the end of the season to be traded and see what else is out there. Ironically, St. Louis, Anaheim and Chicago have all shown interest in Spezza as well. Some experts feel St. Louis would be the likely destination for Spezza as the Blues seem to be more of the right fit for him. Chicago needs a no. 2 center but has to be careful with how much they spend now that contract negotiations with Kane and Toews are in full swing. The Toronto Maple Leafs are another team who have interest in Spezza's services.
Will the Jets trade Byfuglien/Kane? Evander Kane is a name that has been tossed around a lot this offseason regarding whether or not Winnipeg would trade the 22 year old. Now, defenseman Dustin Byfuglien's name has been brought up. Jet's GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has kept quiet in regards to Kane and Byfuglien and refuses to get into any specifics. This is almost a sure sign that he is looking to deal these two guys at the draft. The asking price for these guys may be high, but you can be sure plenty of teams would love to have a playmaker like Kane or a big scoring defenseman like Byfuglien and be willing to pay a high price for either of them.