2014 Draft Prospect Profile #1 - Aaron Ekblad
Profiling the top prospects available for June's Entry Draft has become an annual tradition at The Cannon, and we kick off the 2014 series with a look at defenseman Aaron Ekblad.
Current Team: Barrie Colts, OHL
Date of Birth: February 7, 1996
Place of Birth: Belle River, Ontario
Weight: 216 lbs
The term "stud prospect" has been overused in the past, but when using this adjective to describe Ekblad it's entirely appropriate. He's the complete package of size, skill and smarts. A defenseman hasn't been taken with the first overall pick since the 2006 Entry Draft (Erik Johnson, St. Louis) but 2014 could see the return of a blueliner hearing his name called to the podium first.
There's been talk that he's a Chris Pronger clone, and that he's letter material.
Just the second player to be granted exceptional status in the OHL. Ekblad is a true "two-way" defenseman. He makes great passes, uses his size to his advantage, plays the body, quarterbacks the power play, can take over the game in any of the three zones and has great hockey sense. He is a sure fire top 3 pick in this summers NHL entry draft.- Tyler Parchem, Elite Prospects
"He has a hard, accurate shot and shows a lot of poise and confidence," Edwards said. "He is physically strong and uses his size and strength very well. He will not back down when challenged and moves the puck well with hard, accurate passes." - Chris Edwards, NHL
An exceptional talent, Ekblad has an impressive blend of size and strength for his age. He's mature, confident and poised in all three zones, skates well and is strong in transition. - Future Considerations
A Good Fit in Columbus?
Thanks to the Jackets' terrific season and subsequent playoff berth, Ekblad will be long gone by the time Jarmo Kekalainen, John Davidson and Paul Castron approach the podium to announce their pick. It's unlikely that Ekblad falls out of the top-three draft choices. Florida picks first thanks to their lottery win, and given their nice stable of young forwards like Jonathan Huberdeau, Nick Bjugstad, Quinton Howden and Jimmy Hayes, taking a defenseman to join the likes of Erik Gudbranson and Brian Campbell makes sense. Choosing a defenseman becomes a much better idea if the Panthers end up trading Dmitry Kulikov. The Sabres took two defensemen in the first round last year, so it's unlikely they take another one this year at second overall. With the Oilers picking third, there's no way in hell he makes it to fourth.
Ekblad in Action