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Aaron Ekblad
AEkblad.jpg
Born February 7, 1996 (1996-02-07) (age 23)
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight 216 lb (98 kg; 15 st 6 lb)
Position Defence
Shoots Right
NHL team Florida Panthers
National team Flag of Canada.svg 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, currently playing with the Florida Panthers in the National Hockey League (NHL).

He was selected first overall in the 2011 OHL Entry Draft and was selected first overall by the Florida Panthers in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

Playing CareerEdit

Amateur Playing CareerEdit

In 2010–11, Aaron 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. He captained the team and lead them to an alliance championship. His application to be the only player born in 1996 in the draft was approved unanimously, after a six week review by Hockey Canada.

With the approval, Aaron became the first defenceman ever granted "exceptional player" status. 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 and Sean Day in 2013.

In the 2014 OHL Coaches Poll, the results of which were released in Toronto, Aaron 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 defenseman, and best defensive defenseman. He was also voted second in the category of best penalty killer, behind Oshawa Generals forward Scott Laughton.

Professional Playing CareerEdit

On June 27, 2014, Aaron was selected first overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers. He subsequently signed his first NHL contract on September 3, a three-year, entry-level deal with the Panthers.

After making the Panthers' opening night roster out of training camp for the 2014–15 NHL season, Aaron made his NHL debut on October 9, 2014 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. Aaron later scored his first career NHL goal on November 1, 2014 against Steve Mason of the Philadelphia Flyers in a 2–1 Panthers win.

On December 6, 2014, in a game against the Buffalo Sabres, Aaron 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 NHL season. He was also named the game's first star for his performance.

On January 23, 2015, Aaron was named as an injury replacement for Colorado Avalanche defenceman Erik Johnson at the 2015 NHL All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio. In the game, he recorded four assists in Team Toews' 17–12 victory over Team Foligno.

Aaron 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, he led all rookie defencemen 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.

On April 23, 2015, Aaron was named one of three finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy and on June 24, 2015, he was announced as the winner of the award.

On July 2, 2016, Aaron and the Panthers agreed to terms on an eight-year, $60 million contract extension.

Career StatisticsEdit

Regular season and playoffsEdit

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
NHL totals 227 37 59 96 131 6 0 1 1 0

InternationalEdit

Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
2012 Canada Ontario U17 Template:Brca 5 1 2 3 4
2013 Canada Ontario U17 6th 5 2 4 6 4
2013 Canada IH18 Template:Goca 5 2 2 4 4
2014 Canada WJC 4th 7 1 1 2 2
2015 Canada WC Template:Goca 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

International PlayEdit

Medal record
Competitor for Flag of Canada.svg Canada
Ice hockey
World Championships
Gold 2015 Czech Republic
Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament
Gold 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, Aaron suffered a concussion in an exhibition game against the Czech Republic.

Aaron 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.

Personal LifeEdit

Aaron was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, but grew up in Belle River, Ontario, Canada. He attended St. Anne's Catholic High School and was an honor roll student in the WECDSB. His brother, Darien, a goaltender, was drafted into the OHL by the London Knights.

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