After much speculation on whether or not they would trade the pick away, the Florida Panthers have selected 18 year old defenseman Aaron Ekblad.
Aaron Ekblad entered the CHL a year earlier than the leagues eligible age after being given "exceptional player" status by the league - the first ever defenseman to be given the status and only the 3rd ever overall. The Windsor, Ontario native has played his last 3 season with the Barrie Colts in the OHL and served as the team's captain during the 2013-2014 season. In 175 games with the Colts, Ekblad has scored 40 goals and 76 assists.
In 2013-2014 he led the league among defensemen in scoring with 23 goals and was named the OHL's Most Outstanding Defenseman - becoming only the 3rd 18 year old player to win the honor in the past 20 years.
Ekblad has also been a part of Canada's U18 and U20 teams as well. In 2013 Ekblad was named captain of Canada's U18 team and helped lead them to a gold medal in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. He was also a part of the 2014 U20 World Juniors squad and scored 1 goal and 1 assist in 7 games played.
In a 2014 OHL coaches poll Ekblad was voted as having the best and hardest shots as well as being the best offensive and defensive defenseman. He has a viciously accurate shot and a lethal finish on one-timers from the point. He is described as very calm and collected on and off the ice and more than a few people consider him a potential franchise player, a much needed addition in and of itself for the Panthers. Look for Aaron to make his name known on the big stage as early as 2014-2015.