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Talking, Playing Big: Erik Gudbranson Says He'll Make Panthers in 2010

Erikguddraft1 LOS ANGELES -- The Panthers went with the smart, safe move on Friday night by taking 6-foot-4 defenseman Erik Gudbranson with the third overall pick at the NHL Draft.

Dale Tallon announced the pick. He was joined on stage by Randy Sexton, Bill Torrey, Scott Luce and others.

Here's what Erik had to say about joining the Panthers:

“I worked hard for this. There's a lot of work to be done, but I'm excited about this opportunity.''

“This is where I want to be, where I set my goal. I have to work on my hands, gain some weight. But I think I can play at the NHL level next year.''

“I did my research on their team. With Dmitry Kulikov there, I can be a good compliment to him on the backend. The real attraction is having Dale Tallon there, seeing what he did in Chicago, building a team that won the Stanley Cup from scratch. I'm very excited to be a part of the Florida Panthers. They're going in the right direction. There's no doubt in my mind I wanted to be there.

“I feel it starts now. We're going to build up and turn into a force in the NHL in the next couple of years.''

“I didn't know I was going there until I was selected. It was a very serious interview, but Dale Tallon kept it loose. I came in being myself and I think they appreciated that.''

ON BALLARD

“I did hear about that just before I got here. It's not about the players who are leaving. I'm competing with the players who are there. I'm trying to earn a spot. I'm going to go and compete. If I have to beat out people, I will.''

Erikguddraft2 “I think that I can make it. It's all about hard work and what I put in this summer. I could still go back to Kingston, but my goal is set and has been for a long time. I want to be an NHLer at 18. If I went to the Panthers or anywhere else, I want to make it. I did watch as many Panthers games as I could this year and I think I'm a good compliment to them.''

“I'm a top 5 pick, a very high pick and I'm extremely honored to be here. It's an unbelievable feeling to be picked this high. Congrats to [Hall and Seguin] but there are other guys out there.''

“I portray a tough image and I back it up. I play tough, like to drop the big hits. When it comes to dropping the gloves, I have no fear in doing that whether its a small guy or a big guy. That's a part of my game that I like to portray and that's not going to change.''

BEING FIRST D-MAN PICKED

“It's a huge honor and it was a friendly competition between those guys. They are all going to be great NHL players. There's no doubt they'll have great careers, but to be the first picked is a huge honor. That's all I can talk about.''

WORKOUTS STARTING

“I'm staying here for a little vacation, but that doesn't mean I can't get some work in. I'm certainly going to get into the gym as soon as possible, on the ice with NHL guys as soon as possible.''

“I want to be there really bad. I think I can make a difference right when I get there. Certainly I'm going to have to do a lot of work. There are some great players there and it's going to be a lot of competition. I understand I'm going into that camp even par with the seventh round pick taken. You know it's going to be great competition. It's going to be tough to make that team.''

“I'm staying here until Thursday. Unless the Florida Panthers want me to go somewhere else.''




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