Florida to host McDavid-led 2015 NHL Draft

Connor McDavid (Aaron Bell/OHL)

The Florida Panthers’ new owner isn’t wasting any time trying to generate interest in his hockey team.

Just days after general manager Dale Tallon revealed that owner Vincent Viola had given him the green light to spend to the salary cap in order to make the club competitive, the Miami Herald first reported that Florida will host the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The NHL made a formal announcement Tuesday.

“The draft is where the future of the NHL begins to take shape, and the BB&T Center is an ideal setting in which to enjoy the excitement as we welcome our next generation of stars,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said via statement. “Vinnie Viola, Doug Cifu, Michael Yormark, the Panthers’ fans and the South Florida community will be outstanding hosts to our clubs, our media and our incoming class of 2015 draftees.”

The event will be held June 26 and 27 at BB&T Center. NHL club executives, scouts and coaches will be present on the floor. More than 15,000 fans and 500 media members are expected to attend.

The Panthers also hosted the 2001 draft at the arena, during which they chose Stephen Weiss with the fourth overall pick. Ilya Kovalchuk went first overall that year to the Atlanta Thrashers.

The 2015 NHL Draft will be notable for the eligibility of Canadian phenom Connor McDavid, the early favourite to be chosen first overall.

Last summer, the Panthers were promised hosting duties for both a draft and an all-star game to repay Broward County for footing the bill for the arena’s new scoreboard.

“Greater Fort Lauderdale is honoured to welcome the NHL Draft back to Broward County,” said Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, via statement. “The excitement of this event is made even better by the economic impact of the draft. Nearly $10 million will be added to our economy, and the world will get to see what summer is like here.”

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