Aaron Ekblad Top 30 NHL Draft Prospect


Aaron Ekblad is one of the top prospects and likely a top three overall pick in tomorrow’s first round of the 2014 NHL Draft. Ekblad is a 6’3″, 213lbs, right-handed defenseman who played for the Barrie Colts. He has the physical maturity to step right into the NHL game.

As a 15 year old, Ekblad became the first defenseman to ever be granted “exceptional status” in the OHL. He was allowed to enter the OHL as a 15 year old and now has three years of experience in the league. His rookie campaign saw him earn 29 (10G, 19A) points in 63 games while he earned 34 (7G, 27A) points in 54 games during his second year. This past season Ekblad earned 53 (23G, 30A) in 58 games.

Ekblad was also a member of the 2014 Canadian World Junior Championships team. He was the youngest defenseman on the roster and one of the youngest players in the tournament. However, Ekblad was still able to score a goal and add an assist in seven games played.

What A Team Will Get When They Draft Him

The team that selects Aaron Ekblad will get a future top-4 defenseman who is able to step right in and help out next season. Ekblad will NOT be a top pairing defenseman in his rookie year and he may even take a couple of years to develop into his full potential (as most young defensemen do). However, his exceptional size and his extra year of junior experience give Ekblad the ability to contribute at the NHL next season.

The Director of NHL Central Scouting, Daniel Marr, had this to say about Ekblad:

"He’s smart and an excellent all-round skater for his size. He handles and distributes the puck well in all zones, passes with authority and possesses an accurate shot from the point."

Ekblad is the complete package. His smarts, skating, size, shot, and passing ability will make him a quality defenseman for the foreseeable future.

His Most Underrated Skill

Aaron Ekblad can quarterback a power play as well as any defenseman in the 2014 draft. He was on the ice for 70.3% of the Barrie Colts power play time this past season and his laser from the points ensured his spot.

When predicting the future of 6’3″ defensemen, puck moving usually comes second to physicality or defensive awareness. It is usually the small puck moving defensemen who get power play time. But Ekblad has such a wide range of skills that he is able to be just as effective on the power play as anyone.

What He Still Needs To Work On

There is little in Ekblad’s game that needs work. However, he would do well to increase his 5v5 production. According to ExtraSkater.com’s CHL numbers, only 20 of Ekblads 53 points last season came at even strength. In the NHL, even strength production is what wins championships.

Even the most productive NHL defensemen score almost half of their points on the power play.  Still, that does not mean that Ekblad’s even strength production does not need work.

One more thing that will be needed with Ekblad is patience, although that is out of his control. Even great young defensemen like Seth Jones, Drew Doughty, and PK Subban took (or are taking) a few years to develop into high end defensemen.

Whichever team drafts Ekblad will need to be patient in waiting for him to develop. Part of that patience will be making sure that Ekblad is not given tough minutes early on in his career. Even if his future is on the top pairing, he needs to be kept in the bottom four next year to ease his development.

Take a look at some Aaron Ekblad highlights: