According to TSN.ca, the International Scouting Services have listed Kootenay Ice center Sam Reinhart as the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2014 NHL draft. However, there is a serious buzz around No. 2 prospect and Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad.
As the captain of Barrie in the OHL—one of the toughest junior leagues in the world—Ekblad has shown incredible leadership on and off the ice.
His maturity has been the team's anchor for the last three seasons and should translate well to the NHL.
As the NHL public relations department shared, Ekblad has been highly touted since he was a young man and has worked his way to the top:
Ekblad also has the elite size organizations are looking for at the next level. At 6’4” and 216 pounds, the fact that there is still room to grow on his frame will have every franchise desperate for help along the blue line taking notice.
First and foremost, Ekblad is a stellar defender. Whether it’s at even strength or on the penalty kill, he is one of the best shutdown defensemen in the 2014 class and his willingness to get in the shooting lanes makes him a valuable asset to any penalty-killing unit.
With the need for an elite defender to help capitalize on all the young talent already on the roster, TSN’s Craig Button spoke with David Staples of The Edmonton Journal about Ekblad’s potential fit with the Oilers:
I think the Oilers are going to be thrilled to end up with a defenceman that is pillar-type defenceman. You talk about a one-two punch on the blueline, him and Darnell Nurse, I think it helps Justin Schultz potentially. But Aaron Ekblad is a 25 minute-plus a game player and he can play every situation in the game and play them well.
Add in his high hockey I.Q., and there aren’t too many instances of Ekblad making a bad play.
While there is no doubt that Ekblad has elite skills defensively, he is also an offensive threat. If you don’t believe me, check out his career numbers in the OHL:
|Aaron Ekblad's Regular Season Stats|
Using his excellent skating ability, Ekblad has become a force in the transition game and has the ability to find a breaking forward streaking into the offensive zone with a pass.
With the vision to find the passing lanes and make accurate decisions on the fly, his presence as the leader of the power play has resulted in one of the most dangerous point shots in the entire draft class.
The real key to success for Ekblad is his confidence. The young man knows that he is a great player, but he still works hard to improve and looks to make his teammates better when given the opportunity.
Whether it’s the Edmonton Oilers or any other team lucky enough to draft him, the franchise that adds Ekblad to its roster will be getting an all-around defender it can build around for a long time.
All stats and information via NHL.com.