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Florida Panthers Select D Aaron Ekblad with No. 1 Overall Pick in 2014 NHL Draft

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers Executive Vice President and General Manager Dale Tallon announced today that with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 National Hockey League Draft the team selected D Aaron Ekblad from the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).

“We are thrilled to have selected Aaron with the No. 1 pick,” said Tallon. “He is a strong, smart and physically mature defenseman who skates well and can play at both ends of the ice. Aaron is another building block for our team and we are confident that he will fit well with our young nucleus of talented players that includes Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau and Erik Gudbranson. We look forward to his continued growth and contributions to our team and the South Florida community.”

Ekblad, 18, was named the OHL’s most outstanding defenseman during the 2013-2014 season, ranking first among the league’s blueliners with 23 goals and tied for fifth with 53 points (23-20-53). The 6-foot-3, 213-pouind defenseman became just the third player (in their 18-year-old birth year) to claim the honor in the past 20 years, following Ryan Ellis (selected 11th overall by Nashville in 2009) and Bryan Berard (selected 1st overall by Ottawa in 1995). He also served as Barrie’s team captain.

The Belle River, Ontario, native played a top-four role as a 17-year-old for Team Canada at the 2014 World Junior Championship, registering two points (1-1-2) in seven games. On the international level, Ekblad captained Team Canada to the 2013 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial gold medal. He also served as captain of Team Ontario at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Ekblad was granted exceptional player status by Hockey Canada to be eligible for the 2011 OHL Priority Selection as a 15-year-old. He was just the second player in OHL history to be given exceptional player status, following John Tavares in 2005. In his rookie season with Barrie, he recorded (10-19-29) in 63 games, earning OHL Rookie of the Year honors.

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