|Born||February 7, 1996 |
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
|Height||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)|
|Weight||216 lb (98 kg; 15 st 6 lb)|
|NHL team||Florida Panthers|
|NHL Draft||1st overall, 2014|
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.
Amateur Playing Career
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.
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 Career
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 defencemanErik 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.
Awards & Achievements
|Jack Ferguson Award – OHL Priority Selection Draft Top Pick||2011|
|Emms Family Award – OHL Rookie of the Year||2011–12|
|Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament – Gold with Team Canada||2013|
|Max Kaminsky Trophy – OHL Top Defenceman||2013–14|
|OHL First All-Star Team||2013–14|
|NHL All-Star Game||2015|
|Calder Memorial Trophy||2015|
Regular season and playoffs
|Competitor for Canada|
|Gold||2015 Czech Republic|
During Team Canada junior team's training camp in August of 2014 in preparation for the upcoming 2015 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in December of 2014, Aaron suffered from a concussion in an exhibition game against the Czech Republic.
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.