It appears Florida Panthers rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad, the first pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, has done more than enough to prove he belongs in the NHL.
"Unless he really collapses, I don't see him going anywhere," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon told NHL.com. "I've been very impressed with his composure and maturity. Once the regular season started, he was a different guy; it was like game on and almost as if he's been around for a long time."
Tallon has until the 10th game to determine if Ekblad has what it takes to remain with the team over an 82-game schedule. He could be returned to the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League without his three-year entry-level contract kicking in at any point before his 10th game, which will likely occur Nov. 4 at TD Garden in Boston.
"He's improving and playing well, playing lots of minutes, and has some good mentors here in Willie Mitchell and Brian Campbell," Tallon said.