Aaron Ekblad

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Aaron Ekblad
Aaron Ekblad - 2014 Top Prospect.jpg
Born (1996-02-07) February 7, 1996 (age 22)
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Height 6 ft 4 in (193 cm)
Weight 211 lb (96 kg; 15 st 1 lb)
Position Defense
Shoots Right
NHL team Florida Panthers
National team  Canada
NHL Draft 1st overall, 2014
Florida Panthers
Playing career 2014–present

Aaron Ekblad (born February 7, 1996) is a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman and alternate captain for the Florida Panthers in the National Hockey League (NHL). Ekblad was selected first overall in the 2011 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) entry draft,[1] and he was selected first overall by the Florida Panthers in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.[2] In his first NHL season, Ekblad was selected for the 2015 NHL All-Star Game and earned the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's best rookie in the 2014–15 season.

Prior to joining the NHL, Ekblad played major junior hockey for the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League. He was granted "Exceptional Player" status unanimously by Hockey Canada, thus allowing him to play major junior a year early.

Playing career[edit]

Amateur[edit]

In 2010–11, Ekblad competed for the Sun County Panthers minor midget AAA team in Belle River, Ontario. He had 34 points in 30 regular season games and added 21 points in 18 playoff games.[3] He captained the team and lead them to an alliance championship.[4]

Ekblad's application to be the only player born in 1996 in the CHL draft was approved unanimously, after a six-week review by Hockey Canada. With the approval, Ekblad became the first defenceman ever granted "exceptional player" status.[5] The status allowed him to compete in the Canadian Hockey League a year earlier than his eligible age. The only other players to have been given such eligibility are centre John Tavares in 2005, Connor McDavid in 2012, Sean Day in 2013, and Joseph Veleno in 2015.[6]

In the 2014 OHL Coaches Poll, the results of which were released in Toronto, he won top honours in four different categories in the Eastern Conference of the Ontario Hockey League, earning first-place finishes for best shot, hardest shot, best offensive defenceman, and best defensive defenceman. He was also voted second in the category of best penalty killer, behind Oshawa Generals forward Scott Laughton.[7]

Professional[edit]

Ekblad was selected first overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers on June 27, 2014.[2] He subsequently signed his first NHL contract on September 3, a three-year, entry-level deal with the Panthers.[8] After making the Panthers' opening night roster out of training camp for the 2014–15 season, Ekblad made his NHL debut on October 9 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the game, he scored his first career NHL point, an assist on a Jonathan Huberdeau goal, in Florida's eventual 3–2 loss in overtime.[9] Ekblad later scored his first career NHL goal on November 1 against Steve Mason of the Philadelphia Flyers in a 2–1 Panthers win.[10]

On December 6, in a game against the Buffalo Sabres, Ekblad scored a career-high three points in a 3–2 Panthers victory, the first Panthers rookie to record a three-point game since Dan Boyle during the 1998–99 season.[11] Ekblad was also named the game's first star for his performance.[12][11] On January 23, 2015, Ekblad was named as an injury replacement for Colorado Avalanche defenceman Erik Johnson at the 2015 NHL All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio.[13] In the Game, Ekblad recorded four assists in Team Toews' 17–12 victory over Team Foligno.[14]

Ekblad finished his rookie season with 12 goals and 27 assists (39 points) in 81 games played for Florida. Following the conclusion of his rookie season, Ekblad led all rookie defensemen in goals, power play goals (6), power play points (13), shots (170) and fewest shot attempts against per 60 minutes (38.04). He also finished second in assists, plus-minus (+12), hits (109) and blocked shots (80), while also averaging 21:48 of ice time per game.[15] Ekblad also set a new franchise record for rookie defensemen in goals, assists, and points, surpassing Ed Jovanovski.[16][17] On April 23, Ekblad was named one of three finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy — awarded annually to the NHL's rookie of the year — along with the Ottawa Senators' Mark Stone and Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau.[18] On June 24, 2015, Ekblad was announced as the Calder winner.[19]

During the following season, Ekblad missed four games in January to recover from a concussion he had endured from a hit delivered by Edmonton Oilers Matt Hendricks. Hendricks was suspended three games for the hit.[20]

On July 2, 2016, Ekblad and the Panthers agreed to an eight-year, $60 million extension.[21] He was also named an alternative captain.[22] During the 2016–17 season, Ekblad suffered another concussion during a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning and missed four games.[23]

On February 3, 2018, Ekblad became only the 15th defensemen in NHL history to reach double-digits in goals in each of their first four seasons.[24][25]

International play[edit]

Medal record
Representing  Canada
Ice hockey
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 2015 Czech Republic
Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament
Gold medal – first place 2013 Czech Republic

During Team Canada junior team's training camp in August 2014 in preparation for the upcoming 2015 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in December 2014, Ekblad suffered a concussion in an exhibition game against the Czech Republic.[26]

Ekblad played for Canada at the 2015 World Championships, where they won the gold medal for the first time since 2007 with a perfect 10-0 record.[27]

Ekblad was invited to the play for Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.[28] Team North America was a newly formed team that consisted of hockey players aged 23 or younger. He was later named an alternate captain along with Sean Couturier.[29] During the tournament, he suffered an upper body injury and had to leave the team early.[30]

On April 12, 2018, Ekblad was named to Team Canada's senior team to compete at the 2018 IIHF World Championship.[31]

Personal life[edit]

Ekblad's brother Darien, a goaltender, was drafted into the OHL by the London Knights.[32] Aaron Ekblad attended Innisdale Secondary School and was an honour roll student in the Simcoe County District School Board.[33][34] Ekblad was born in Windsor, but grew up in Belle River, Ontario. His great-grandfather was Swedish, hence the last name "Ekblad".[35]

During his rookie year Ekblad lived with veteran Willie Mitchell and his wife Megan.[36]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2011–12 Barrie Colts OHL 63 10 19 29 34 13 2 3 5 8
2012–13 Barrie Colts OHL 54 7 27 34 64 22 7 10 17 28
2013–14 Barrie Colts OHL 58 23 30 53 91 9 2 4 6 14
2014–15 Florida Panthers NHL 81 12 27 39 32
2015–16 Florida Panthers NHL 78 15 21 36 41 6 0 1 1 0
2016–17 Florida Panthers NHL 68 10 11 21 58
2017–18 Florida Panthers NHL 82 16 22 38 71
NHL totals 309 53 81 134 202 6 0 1 1 0

International[edit]

Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
2012 Canada Ontario U17 3rd, bronze medalist(s) 5 1 2 3 4
2013 Canada Ontario U17 6th 5 2 4 6 4
2013 Canada IH18 1st, gold medalist(s) 5 2 2 4 4
2014 Canada WJC 4th 7 1 1 2 2
2015 Canada WC 1st, gold medalist(s) 10 4 3 7 6
2016 Team North America WCH 5th 1 0 0 0 0
Junior totals 22 6 9 15 14
Senior totals 11 4 3 7 6

Awards and honours[edit]

Award Year
OHL
Jack Ferguson Award – OHL Priority Selection Draft Top Pick 2011
Emms Family Award – Rookie of the Year 2011–12
Max Kaminsky Trophy – Top Defenceman 2013–14
First All-Star Team 2013–14 [37]
NHL
All-Star Game 2015, 2016 [38]
Calder Memorial Trophy 2015
All-Rookie Team 2015 [16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Colts Select Aaron Ekblad First Overall". OurSports Central. May 6, 2011. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Ekblad 'overwhelmed' after going No. 1 in Draft". National Hockey League. June 28, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  3. ^ "Aaron Ekblad". Elite Prospects. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  4. ^ "Ekblad Receives Ferguson Award". Barrie Colts. June 12, 2011. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  5. ^ "Aaron Ekblad first defenceman named 'exceptional player'". The Star. September 21, 2011. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  6. ^ "Exceptional Player Status for Sean Day". Ontario Hockey League. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  7. ^ "Ekblad earns four top honors in OHL coaches poll". National Hockey League. March 19, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  8. ^ Florida Panthers Sign No. 1 Overall Draft Pick D Aaron Ekblad
  9. ^ Associated Press (October 9, 2014). "Victor Hedman scores in OT to lift Lightning past Panthers in opener". FOX Sports. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  10. ^ Ekblad's first NHL goal helps Panthers edge Flyers
  11. ^ a b Fialkov, Harvey (December 8, 2014). "NHL names Panthers rookie Aaron Ekblad one of Three Stars of week". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  12. ^ Olive, Jameson (May 16, 2015). "Panthers top pick Aaron Ekblad lived up to expectations". FOX Sports. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  13. ^ Gretz, Adam (January 23, 2015). "Aaron Ekblad added to All-Star Game; Johnny Gaudreau not added". CBS Sports. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  14. ^ Masisak, Corey (January 25, 2015). "Ekblad, Gaudreau, Forsberg make an impact at ASG". NHL. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  15. ^ Olive, Jameson (May 16, 2015). "Panthers top pick Aaron Ekblad lived up to expectations". FOX Sports. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  16. ^ a b "NHL announces 2014-15 All-Rookie Team". NHL.com. June 24, 2015. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  17. ^ Battaglia, Chris (January 8, 2015). "Panthers' Ekblad in good company after breaking franchise record". thescore.com. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  18. ^ "Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau, Ottawa Senators' Mark Stone, Florida Panthers' Aaron Ekblad named NHL Calder finalists". National Post. April 23, 2015. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  19. ^ "Panthers rookie Ekblad wins Calder Trophy". NHL.com. June 24, 2015. Retrieved February 11, 2018.
  20. ^ "Ekblad scores in return, Panthers rout 'Hawks". tsn.ca. January 22, 2016. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  21. ^ "Aaron Ekblad signs eight-year extension with Panthers". NHL.com. July 1, 2016. Retrieved February 11, 2018.
  22. ^ Cotsonika, Nicholas J. (December 2, 2016). "Aaron Ekblad putting Panthers on his shoulders". NHL.com. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  23. ^ Cooper, Josh (March 21, 2017). "Aaron Ekblad to return from concussion for Panthers". sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  24. ^ DeFranks, Matthew (February 4, 2018). "Panthers' Aaron Ekblad joins elite company with goal on Saturday night". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved February 11, 2018.
  25. ^ Poupart, Alain (February 4, 2018). "Huberdeau's late goal propels Panthers past Red Wings". NHL.com. Retrieved February 11, 2018.
  26. ^ "Don cherry upset with Team Canada after Aaron Ekblad hit". CBC. August 9, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  27. ^ "Canada's National Men's Team wins gold medal at 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship". Hockey Canada. May 17, 2015. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
  28. ^ "WORLD CUP OF HOCKEY 2016 ROSTERS FINALIZED". nhlpa.com. May 27, 2016. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  29. ^ "Connor McDavid named captain of Team North America for World Cup". The Globe and Mail. September 8, 2016. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  30. ^ Benjamin, Amalie (September 20, 2016). "Aaron Ekblad leaves World Cup early". NHL.com. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  31. ^ "HOCKEY CANADA NAMES FIRST 18 PLAYERS TO 2018 IIHF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP ROSTER". hockeycanada.ca. April 12, 2018. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  32. ^ "DARIEN EKBLAD". eliteprospects.com. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  33. ^ "Otters' Pelech named Top High School Student and Scholastic Player of Year". ontariohockeyleague.com. April 26, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  34. ^ "OHL Academic Players of November". ottershockey.com. December 16, 2011. Retrieved March 22, 2018. Ekblad, 15, a native of Belle River, Ontario, is currently attending Innisdale Secondary School
  35. ^ "Team Canada has questions as final world junior cuts loom". cbc.ca. December 15, 2013. Retrieved February 11, 2018. The six-foot-four Ekblad will be going to his ancestral homeland. His great-grandfather was Swedish.
  36. ^ Baker, Katie (March 25, 2015). "The Roomies". Grantland. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  37. ^ "OHL Announces 2013-14 All-Star Teams". Ontario Hockey League. May 14, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  38. ^ "Ekblad, Gaudreau replace Crosby, Johnson in ASG". Sportsnet.ca. 2015-01-15. Retrieved 2015-01-15.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Nail Yakupov
Winner of the Emms Family Award
2011–12
Succeeded by
Connor McDavid
Preceded by
Alex Galchenyuk
Jack Ferguson Award
2011
Succeeded by
Connor McDavid
Preceded by
Nathan MacKinnon
NHL first overall draft pick
2014
Succeeded by
Connor McDavid
Preceded by
Aleksander Barkov
Florida Panthers' first round draft pick
2014
Succeeded by
Lawson Crouse
Preceded by
Nathan MacKinnon
Winner of the Calder Trophy
2015
Succeeded by
Artemi Panarin