With the first pick of the NHL draft, the Florida Panthers went with 15 seconds of dramatic pause before announcing the name.

The silence felt much longer for Aaron Ekblad.

"I was just sitting there just kind of scared and excited at the same time," he said.

At last, general manager Dale Tallon made the call for Ekblad, selecting the defenseman with the first pick Friday night in Philadelphia.

Ekblad, a 6-foot-4, 214-pound defenseman who played for Barrie in the Ontario Hockey League, is the first defenseman to go No. 1 since St. Louis took Erik Johnson in 2006.

Without a clear cut No. 1 on the board, Tallon was open to trading the pick. In the end, he decided to take the 18-year-old defenseman from Belle River, Ontario.

"That is the burden of expectation. I chase it," Ekblad said. "I want that burden of expectation. I want that feel for motivation, and I want to succeed under that."

Ekblad said he was NHL ready and should fit in with the Panthers after a recent scouting mission.

The Buffalo Sabres selected center Sam Reinhart with the second overall pick. He is the son of former NHL player Paul Reinhart, who was selected by the Atlanta Flames in the first round in 1979.

Reinhart has the potential to be a top-line center in filling a key need for the rebuilding Sabres.

There was a big trade in the hours before the draft, when the Anaheim Ducks acquired center Ryan Kesler from the Vancouver Canucks for center Nick Bonino, defenseman Luca Sbisa and the 24th overall pick Friday -- which the Canucks used to take center Jared McCann from Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League.

"He just felt he needed a fresh start, and quite frankly we don't want somebody that doesn't want to be here," new Canucks general manager Jim Benning said about Kesler. "We're going to acquire high-quality people that are going to come in here and want to work hard for one another, so we didn't give it much thought."

Kesler, 29, is a strong two-way player, but a series of injuries has taken a toll.

"I'm going to Anaheim to win a championship," said Kesler, who waived his no-trade clause. "That's going to be my sole goal, and my team's sole goal."

The Canucks also received a third-round pick -- No. 85 overall -- from Anaheim and flipped that selection in their third trade of the day to the New York Rangers for grinding forward Derek Dorsett.

Nashville traded forwards Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling to the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward James Neal midway through the draft.

Rounds 2 through 7 are Saturday.

Coyotes: Arizona initiated a buyout of the final three years of Mike Ribeiro's contract. "Mike had some real behavioral issues we felt we could not tolerate going forward," general manager Don Maloney said. The Coyotes signed the veteran center to a four-year, $22 million contract last offseason. Ribeiro, 34, had 16 goals and 31 assists in 80 games.

The Coyotes also made their first draft pick, forward Brendan Perlini, since changing their name from Phoenix to Arizona. The team had been the Phoenix Coyotes since 1996.