The National Hockey League announced today that Florida Panthers D Aaron Ekblad has been awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy, given to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the NHL.
Ekblad becomes the second Panthers player to win the award in the last three years, joining F Jonathan Huberdeau who received the honor in 2013.
“The entire Florida Panthers organization congratulates Aaron on being awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy,” said Florida Panthers Executive Vice President and General Manager Dale Tallon. “He is a highly skilled and dynamic young player who displayed tremendous work ethic, professionalism and dedication throughout his rookie season and is most deserving of this honor. He is an important part of our young nucleus of talent that will be counted upon to lead our organization to future success.”
Ekblad, 19, finished his rookie NHL season with 39 points (12-27—39) and a +12 rating, ranking him first on the club in goals, assists and points by a defenseman, as well as first in plus-minus. On Nov. 1, Ekblad recorded his first NHL goal, becoming the youngest defenseman in franchise history to record a goal. The 19-year old was selected to compete in the 2015 NHL All-Star Game, where he led all All-Star defensemen in scoring with four points (0-4—4). His four-point effort also tied F Pavel Bure and F Olli Jokinen for most points by a Panthers player all-time in an All-Star Game.
Ekblad’s 12 goals ranked him first among NHL rookie defensemen, while his 39 points placed him second in scoring for NHL rookie defensemen. Ekblad finished the season ranked eighth overall in NHL rookie scoring. Ekblad was the only player under the age of 20 to finish in the top ten for rookie scoring. The All-Star defenseman logged a total of 1,766:37 of ice time this season to lead all rookies in overall ice time.
The Windsor, Ontario, native set single-season franchise records for rookie defensemen in goals, assists and points. Ekblad was named the NHL’s third star of the week for the week ended Dec. 7, recording six points (2-4—6) in four games, including a game-winning goal and a career-high three-point night (Dec. 6). With his three-point performance, Ekblad became just the second rookie defenseman in Panthers history to record three points in one game.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound blueliner completed the season placing third all-time in points among NHL rookie defensemen who began their careers at 18-years old, finishing two points shy of tying Bobby Orr (41 points, 1966-67).
Ekblad was drafted by Florida in the first round (first overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft.
The Florida Panthers are set to face the Philadelphia Flyers in their season opener on Oct. 10 at 7 P.M. Tickets can be reserved now with purchase of a 2015-16 Panthers full and partial ticket package. Full and partial ticket packages are now available and include the best prices, access to team events, an interest-free payment plan option and more.