COLUMBUS -- Twelve months ago, Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad was in a hotel in Sudbury, Ontario with his Barrie Colts teammates awaiting an Ontario Hockey League game the following afternoon.
Sunday, Ekblad not only participated in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena, the 18-year-old rookie had four assists in Team Toews' 17-12 victory against Team Foligno.
"I did not know that," Ekblad said, when told he finished with four points. "I probably made a pass from the bottom of our zone and we scored. It is not a big deal.
"It is just a fun experience. I'm really happy to be here. I just came in as a replacement, and I didn't expect to be playing in this game. It was cool, and all the guys in here were professionals and welcomed me with open arms. It was nice."
Ekblad was joined on Team Toews by forwards Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators and Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames. They have been three of the top rookies in the NHL this season, and all were given a chance to play in the game because of injuries to other players.