Evidently the upper-body injury which prevented Aaron Ekblad from playing in either of Team North America’s final two games at the World Cup of Hockey is healing just fine. According to Alain Poupart, writing for the Panthers team site on NHL.com, Ekblad is back in Florida and was on the ice today doing some individual work.
Ekblad absorbed a hit from Team Finland’s Leo Komarov during North America’s first game of the round-robin portion of the tournament and was thought to have suffered a concussion as a result. However, it was later reported by Mark Spector of Sportsnet that was not the case and in fact was simply a neck injury.
The first overall selection in the 2014 draft, Ekblad is already one of the league’s best young defensemen and is a vital cog for Florida. He had a sensational debut campaign, scoring 12 goals and 39 points in 81 games and winning the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie for the 2014-15 season. Ekblad followed that up with an equally impressive sophomore year, potting 15 goals and assisting on 21 more.
The 20-year-old blue liner has been solid in his own end too with a plus-minus rating of +30 combined over his first two NHL seasons. Although plus-minus can be unreliable in gauging the quality of defensive play, Ekblad has performed well in the puck possession department, posting a career Corsi For % of 52.9% reinforcing the notion of Ekblad’s steady play in his own zone.