Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
Florida Panthers Facebook Florida Panthers Twitter Florida Panthers Google+ Florida Panthers Pintrest Florida Panthers Instagram Florida Panthers
News

Ekblad learns lessons from Panthers prospect camp

Monday, 07.21.2014 / 1:17 PM / News
By Alain Poupart  - NHL.com Correspondent
X
Share with your Friends


Ekblad learns lessons from Panthers prospect camp
After Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad wrapped up his first professional development camp, the first pick in the 2014 NHL\u2008Draft wasn\'t quite sure what was next on his agenda.

After Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad wrapped up his first professional development camp, the first pick in the 2014 NHL Draft wasn't quite sure what was next on his agenda.

Perhaps he would attend a camp in Cape Cod conducted by Panthers skating and skills coach Paul Vincent. Or maybe he would stay in Ontario and focus on off-ice training.

Either way, Ekblad is going to be working. The development camp provided him with an idea of what it would take to earn a spot on Florida's roster in training camp and he'll spend the rest of the summer with that thought in mind.

"I loved it," Ekblad said after development camp ended. "I had a lot of fun from the very beginning, learning quite a few pretty important lessons I can take into the rest of the summer. Obviously I still have a lot of hard work to go through to make this team in September."

The most important lesson might have come from longtime NHL defenseman and Panthers manager of player development Bryan McCabe.

"Just how much it takes," Ekblad said. "We had a good talk with Mr. McCabe. It's just amazing how much mental toughness and how physically and mentally prepared you have to be to make it to the next level. It's a big jump and I'm really excited and aware of what I have to do."

Ekblad, 18, showed off his offensive skills during a scrimmage on the last day of camp, blasting a slap shot past goalie prospect Evan Cowley.

Afterward, Ekblad said he was less than happy with his scrimmage performance from a defensive aspect. That's one area of focus for him over the next several weeks, along with skating and getting stronger.

"I need to work on everything," he said. "Skating is one of the things I focus on the most considering it's a fast-paced game in the NHL and that's what I need to work on the most. ... Any time you can get a little bit stronger, it's really important. I want to get a little bit stronger, upper and lower body. The full realm of my game needs to get better before I can play in the NHL."

Panthers general manager Dale Tallon repeatedly has said Ekblad will be given every opportunity to earn a roster spot in training camp, and McCabe echoed those sentiments.

Ekblad, who will participate in Canada World Juniors training camp in August, isn't taking anything for granted.

"Obviously I don't expect a spot on this team. I have to earn it," he said of the Panthers. "And this is just the first stepping stone to that goal. I don't think until my first game I'll feel that I'm finally here."

At the very least, Ekblad made a very good first impression on his new employers.

"What we expected is what we got," Panthers director of player development Brian Skrudland said. "Very mature young individual that's focused. He is on the right track. He's not only a great hockey individual, but he's a good person off the ice. He seemed to take a leadership role with this group right off the hop and ran away with it, and was vocal, was respectful, was everything it takes to be a Panther. His future looks bright.

"[Now it's just] making sure that he's not going to be surprised by anything when he shows up here in September. He's heading home. He's got a great program for the summer. What we saw right now and him just finishing up a month ago, we feel pretty good about it."

Tallon's message to Ekblad for the next few weeks was simple.

"Just keep getting better," Tallon said. "This is an indoctrination camp. He's probably learned a lot about fitness and nutrition and the pace of play and how to get better. This kid is totally committed. He'll go back and do whatever it takes to come back here and earn a spot on our team."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 65 41 18 6 175 146 88
2 NYI 66 42 21 3 211 185 87
3 TBL 66 40 20 6 217 173 86
4 NYR 63 39 17 7 197 155 85
5 DET 62 36 15 11 182 160 83
6 PIT 63 36 18 9 182 158 81
7 WSH 66 35 21 10 194 164 80
8 BOS 63 31 22 10 168 165 72
9 FLA 65 28 23 14 159 185 70
10 PHI 65 28 25 12 173 187 68
11 OTT 62 28 23 11 176 167 67
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 65 26 34 5 175 199 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 65 22 17 -8 39
J. Huberdeau 62 10 28 2 38
J. Jokinen 64 6 29 0 35
A. Ekblad 65 11 23 7 34
B. Boyes 63 11 21 9 32
J. Jagr 60 12 19 -10 31
J. Hayes 56 17 12 -5 29
B. Campbell 65 3 20 1 23
A. Barkov 54 10 12 -7 22
D. Kulikov 56 3 15 -5 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 16 11 .921 2.37
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
FloridaPanthers.com is the official Web site of the Florida Panthers. Florida Panthers and floridapanthers.com are trademarks of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.