By Jim Diamond
When the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Boston Bruins head to Nashville for next month’s rookie tournament, they will be bringing with them some players whose names were called very early in recent NHL Entry Drafts.
Aaron Ekblad, who the Panthers selected with the first overall selection in June’s draft, was announced as one of the 25 players Florida will bring to the Ford Ice Center, where each team will play one game against each of the other three during the September 13-16 tournament. Located in Antioch, the Ford Ice Center features Nashville’s two newest sheets of ice.
Ekblad sustained a concussion during Team Canada’s training camp game against the Czech Republic in early August, but told reporters, “The concussion is perfectly, completely gone. I feel great,” at last week’s NHL Rookie Symposium held in Toronto.
The Lightning’s roster features highly touted prospect Jonathan Drouin along with three other recent first round draft picks. Drouin was taken third overall in 2013. The Predators took defenseman Seth Jones one pick later.
Other first rounders slated to be in the Bolts lineup include goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (2012 – 19th overall) and defensemen Slater Koekkoek (2012 – 10th overall) and Anthony DeAngelo (2014 – 19th overall).
The Bruins will bring 20 players to Nashville, half of whom are attending their camp on a tryout basis. They will have two recent first round picks with them in forward David Pastrnak (2014 – 25th overall), and goaltender Malcolm Subban (2012 – 24th overall). Subban is the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens blueliner and 2013 Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban.
Nashville’s squad of 19 is the fewest of the four teams. 2014 first round selection Kevin Fiala (11th overall) and Filip Forsberg, taken ninth overall in 2012 by Washington headline the roster for the home-standing Predators.
The tournament schedule is as follows. All games will be played at the Ford Ice Center in Antioch and are open to the public. All times Central.
Saturday, Sept. 13
1 p.m. Florida vs. Boston
4:30 p.m. Nashville vs. Tampa Bay
Sunday, Sept. 14
4 p.m. Tampa Bay vs. Boston
7 p.m. Nashville vs. Florida
Tuesday, Sept. 16
10 a.m. Tampa Bay vs. Florida
1 p.m. Nashville vs. Boston