On Friday, January 23, just as the All-Star weekend gets underway Florida Panthers rookie Aaron Ekblad found out that he has been named to the roster for the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game. The game itself will take place at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, home to the Columbus Blue Jackets, on Sunday, January 25th.
The first overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft by Florida currently leads all rookie defensemen and Panthers defensemen with 25 points (six goals and 19 points). He is also tied for fourth in scoring among rookies. The 18-year-old has exceeded the Panthers’ franchise in assists, previously at 13, and overall point scoring, previously at 21, set by a rookie defenseman in a single season and the season is only half over.
The Belle River, Ontario native will be joining goalie and teammate Roberto Luongo as the two Florida players named to the NHL All-Star Roster. Ekblad is one of just two rookies selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game. He is joined by Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg.
Recently interviewed, Ekblad spoke of how he really enjoys playing in Florida, He spoke highly of his teammates, especially Willie Mitchell and Brian Campbell. While he has been phenomenal in the first half of the season, the rookie carries himself with maturity and humility. He’s become aware of how much he has to do to keep in shape and be ready for each game at the NHL level. His progression is certainly something to keep an eye on, as is the impressive growth of the Florida Panthers who, going into the All-Star break, sit in fifth place in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference.