Player: Aaron Ekblad
Drafted By: Florida Panthers (first overall)
Final Central Scouting Ranking: No. 2 North American skater
Height/Weight: 6'4'', 216 lbs
DOB: February 7, 1996 (18 years old)
Most Recent Affiliation: OHL, Barie Colts
Aaron Ekblad is a talented prospect that has been talked about since the 2013 NHL draft ended. He spent this past season as the captain of the Barrie Colts and led by example. He's a solid all-around defender who scored 23 goals and added 30 assists for 53 points in 58 games in 2013-14.
He is a solid prospect, and there are a lot of things to like about him.
Full Scouting Report
Ekblad is an intimidating defender with impressive size at 6'4" and 216 pounds. He became the first defender in Ontario Hockey League history to be granted exceptional status to play a year early, and he is a very good prospect.
He is the type of defender every team covets, and his physicality, leadership ability and offensive upside make him a grade-A prospect.
His heavy shot makes him a great asset on the power play, and that isn't available every day.
NHL Player Comparison
Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators. Ekblad is a defender with great size, a booming shot and solid offensive potential. In many ways, he is similar to the Predators captain.
Ekblad is a can't-miss prospect, and there is a good chance that he'll make the jump right to the NHL for the start of the 2014-15 NHL season.
That's the expectation he has set for himself. After being selected first overall, the defenseman said via NHL.com's Adam Kimelman, "I'm going to expect to make it, and I'm going to make it because I work hard and do the right things."
Look for Ekblad to bolster the Panthers' blue line when the NHL returns next season.
Ekblad was a bona fide No. 1 pick for most of the season, but a late rise by Sam Bennett knocked him down a peg. Nonetheless, Ekblad is a great player who has first-pairing potential.
His positioning and hockey IQ are a bit suspect at this point, but he is still very young yet very composed for an 18-year-old.
His size and booming slap shot will always be assets, and if he can put the rest of it together, he has the ceiling of a cornerstone rearguard.