PHILADELPHIA — 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 in the Friday night.

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.”

The Panthers had a top-three pick in the NHL draft for the fourth time in the past five years. The first three – defenseman Erik Gudbranson (in 2010), wing Jonathan Huberdeau (2011) and center Aleksander Barkov (2013) – all played significant roles last season. Florida also won the draft lottery in 2002 and 2003 but traded away those picks.

Flyers fans packed the Wells Fargo Center for the first draft in the city. They gave one of the longest sustained boos in recent memory for NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s draft introduction. He was drowned out for most of his 2-minute speech thanking the city for its hospitality.

“Isn’t this supposed to be the city of brotherly love,” he asked.

The Buffalo Sabres selected center Sam Reinhart with the second overall pick. The son of former NHL player Paul Reinhart, he has the potential to be a top-line center for the rebuilding Sabres.

COYOTES: The parent team of the Portland Pirates selected forward Brendan Perlini with the No. 12 overall pick – its first since changing its name from Phoenix to Arizona.

The Coyotes also initiated a buyout of the final three years of center Mike Ribeiro’s contract, parting ways with their top offseason acquisition from a year ago.

“Mike had some real behavioral issues we felt we could not tolerate going forward,” General Manager Don Maloney said.

TRADES: Anaheim acquired center Ryan Kesler from the Vancouver Canucks for center Nick Bonino, defenseman Luca Sbisa and the 24th overall pick.

Kesler, 29, is a two-time U.S. Olympian and a standout two-way center who has spent his entire 10-season career in Vancouver, compiling six 20-goal seasons and 392 career points.

• Nashville traded forward Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling to the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward James Neal.