Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad has plenty of reasons to forget about last season. Ekblad was injured early in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey and had to leave the tournament prematurely. Six months later, a concussion ended his season 10 games early. Very little went right in between. He had an NHL career-low 21 points and a career worst minus-23 rating. The Panthers finished sixth in the Atlantic Division with 81 points. "It just was a tough year all around," Ekblad said Wednesday after participating in an on-ice session with other NHL players at the Power Edge Pro Camp at Scotiabank Pond. Except, instead of forgetting about it and moving on, Ekblad instead has been trying to apply the hard lessons he learned this offseason so he can start using them as a catalyst for the rest of his career. He's 21-years-old and entering the first season of an eight-year, $60 million contract. He's a young veteran now, and he's seen a lot. "The last year of my rookie contract was by far the year that I learned the most," Ekblad said, referencing last season. "I may have cruised through my first two years a little bit too much. The real work began this summer. I truly believe that and I truly believe I'm the most confident and ready that I have ever been to play the game." Why? How? For starters, Ekblad, who said he's 100 percent healthy, has perspective now. He came into the League as rookie and the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft and performed well enough with 39 points (12 goals, 27 assists) in 81 games to win the Calder Trophy. The Panthers then finished first in the Atlantic Division in his second season, when he had 36 points (15 goals, 21 assists) in 78 games.
Ekblad determined to take Panthers to higher level
NHL.com | Aug 3