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Ekblad: First trip to New York has been a blast

by Aaron Ekblad

Defenseman Aaron Ekblad completed his third season with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot-3, 216-pound right-hand shot is No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft. He was named the OHL defenseman of the year after finishing with career highs in goals (23), assists (30), power-play goals (16), points (53) and penalty minutes (91). He earned first-place finishes for best shot, hardest shot, best offensive defenseman and best defensive defenseman in the OHL Eastern Conference in 2013-14. Ekblad has offered to maintain a blog leading up to the 2014 draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Hello everyone from Madison Square Garden!

I'm here for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final between the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings, and am really grateful to be invited here with four other great prospects: Samuel Bennett, Sam Reinhart, Leon Draisaitl and Michael Dal Colle.

This is my first time in New York City and I love it. I'm not a fan of the traffic, but I love Madison Square Garden. The history here is unbelievable and just being here in the city that never sleeps is pretty cool.

We all arrived in New York on Sunday afternoon and took a cab from the airport to Manhattan. Afterwards, I just hung out for a bit and waited for the other guys to arrive. We then went out to Del Frisco's Steakhouse and that was great. I had a really good dinner there. After that, we walked around and I saw Times Square for the first time and took a few pictures. We continued to walk around Midtown, hung out and took a look at everything. It was very cool.

On Monday, we woke up early, got on a bus and arrived at MSG for some interviews, pictures and an opportunity to meet some of the players. We watched the practices for both teams. After Rangers practice, we headed to the locker room and were introduced to Martin St. Louis, Derick Brassard, Rick Nash and Brad Richards. It was a pretty cool experience meeting all those guys.

After Kings practice, we met Tanner Pearson, Drew Doughty, Tyler Toffoli, Kyle Clifford and Dustin Brown. I knew Pearson since he was my teammate in Barrie [in 2011-12] and Clifford used to play for Barrie. Toffoli was a guy I played against since he was with the Ottawa 67's, so it was pretty neat seeing them all again.

It was cool watching the practices and seeing how precise they were. All the players pay attention to detail and focus on what they're doing out there. I know those are really important things to do if you want to play in the NHL. It's adaptation at first, but paying attention to detail and focusing on the little things are what will keep you in the League for 20 years.

I won't make any bold predictions on which team will win the series, but I am rooting for my boys from Barrie. Tanner Pearson is one of my best friends and I've played against Tyler Toffoli. I wouldn't say I'm rooting for anyone, but I do appreciate what Los Angeles has done so far.

Some people have asked for my thoughts on defensemen Drew Doughty of the Kings and Ryan McDonagh of the Rangers. Really, they're letting their true colors shine. They're great players and they're just doing what it takes to help their team win. That's what I want to do.

Until next time, thanks for reading.

Follow Aaron Ekblad on Twitter at: @EK5Colts

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