Panthers' Ekblad leaves U20 summer development camp game with apparent injury

by Aug 5, 9:17 PM

Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, the number one overall pick at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, left a U20 summer development camp game between Team Canada and Czech Republic World Junior hopefuls with an apparent injury on Tuesday night. 

The top defenseman, gassed after an icing kept him on the ice, attempted to the enter the zone and was sandwiched by a pair of Czech defenders:

[By @myregularface, via hockeycanada.ca]

Ekblad left the ice slowly, appeared to be woozy, and went immediately down the tunnel. 

Aug 23, 12:59 PM

Panthers' Ekblad: 'The concussion is perfectly, completely gone'

by Aug 23, 12:59 PM
Bill Streicher / USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO - Aaron Ekblad is getting back to work.

The first overall draft pick of the Florida Panthers said on Saturday he's free of any concussion-like symptoms less than three weeks after he took a hard hit in a world junior exhibition game.

"The concussion is perfectly, completely gone. I feel great," said Ekblad. "I've been skating all this week, working out all this week. It's gone. I feel great."

The 18-year-old defenceman from Windsor, Ont., was injured on Aug. 6 at Canada's world junior training camp in a game against the Czech Republic. The Canadians went on to win 6-2, but Hockey Canada and the Panthers agreed to keep Ekblad off the ice for the rest of the team's summer development camp.

Ekblad said his concussion subsided between four and six days ago, allowing him to focus on fitness as he prepares for Florida's training camp in September.

"The work I've been doing has just been getting back into the normal paces — getting game ready on the ice," said Ekblad. "Just doing little things off the ice. Bringing it back up to the weight that I was doing it before, whether it was a squat, trying to get back up to that weight because I took that time off."

Ekblad was in regular contact with the Panthers organization after the injury, eventually getting the green light to participate in the NHLPA's rookie showcase in Toronto on Saturday and Sunday.

"Their team docs obviously wanted to talk to me, get a feel for how I was feeling," said Ekblad. "I kept in touch with them every day and just tried to let them know."

At six-foot-three and 216 pounds, Ekblad is expected to make Florida's opening day lineup despite the concussion. Selected first overall at the NHL Entry Draft on June 27, Ekblad showed some scoring touch with 23 goals and 30 assists for the Ontario Hockey League's Barrie Colts last season. Ekblad had a total of 40 goals and 76 assists over three seasons in Barrie.

Despite high expectations, Ekblad's not nervous about his first NHL training camp.

"I'm more excited, but I'm a pretty level-headed guy," said Ekblad. "I just want to continue doing what I'm doing. Obviously, you go to development camp and you learn about what it takes, and that's what I'm working on.

"I had that little setback, so I'm just trying to get back into normal paces."

Ekblad was the biggest name of 33 players attending the rookie showcase in Toronto. Hockey trading card manufacturer Upper Deck uses the event to take photographs of the rookies and prospects in their NHL uniforms for use in their products.

Feature photo courtesy of Bill Streicher / USA TODAY Sports

Aug 10, 1:13 PM

Don Cherry upset after watching Ekblad 'get nailed' in 'meaningless game' for Team Canada

by Aug 10, 1:13 PM

Don Cherry - the booming voice of Coach's Corner - took to Twitter on Saturday to voice his displeasure over a recent incident involving defenseman Aaron Ekblad, the Florida Panthers' first overall selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

The 18-year-old was diagnosed with a concussion after being leveled during an Under-20 exhibition game against the Czech Republic at the national junior team development camp on Aug. 5.

Here's what Grapes had to say about the incident in a series of seven tweets:

I'm upset watching Aaron Ekblad, the #1 draft pick, get nailed by a Czech player in a meaningless game and mini series for Team Canada. The hit was a Scott Stevens special. I ask you, why was Aaron even playing? You know he's a lock to make the Junior Club and has a target on his back for being selected first overall in the NHL draft. Robby Fabbri, the sensation from the Memorial Cup playoffs is on crutches. Why? It doesn't make sense. Have the guys that are on the bubble play in these games. Smarten up Team Canada. The CHL and NHL are doing you a favour. They don't have to let you have these players. What if Sam Reinhart and Connor McDavid got hurt too? Again. These guys are locks to make the team. Play the exhibition games with guys you want to see. Your star players getting hurt in a meaningless game in August does not make sense. Smarten up!

We'll consider this a bonus installment of 'Hockey Night in Canada's' infamous intermission show, and quite honestly, Cherry makes a pretty decent point.

Ekblad is expected to be ready for the team's rookie camp in mid-September.

Aug 6, 12:54 PM

Panthers' Ekblad diagnosed with concussion, sent home from development camp

by Aug 6, 12:54 PM
Bill Streicher / USA TODAY Sports

Hockey Canada announced Wednesday afternoon that top Florida Panthers prospect Aaron Ekblad has been diagnosed with a concussion from a hit Tuesday night.

Ekblad was sandwiched between two Czech defenders at a Canada U20 development camp friendly. He has been sent home and Hockey Canada is reportedly consulting with the Panthers.

Photographer Dan Hickling caught the hit while covering the game.

General manager Dale Tallon released a statement saying the team "will closely monitor Aaron's health for the remainder of the offseason and expect him to be ready for (Panthers) rookie camp in mid-September."

Feature photo courtesy of Bill Streicher / USA TODAY Sports

Aug 5, 9:53 PM

Panthers' Ekblad sustains upper-body injury at U20 summer development camp

by Aug 5, 9:53 PM

Prized Florida Panthers prospect Aaron Ekblad sustained an apparent injury and left a friendly on Tuesday night between Canada's U20 hopefuls and the Czech Republic. 

Ekblad was sandwiched by a pair of Czech defenders on the sequence, and appeared to land awkwardly on his ankle following the contact. Based on the vague official description of the injury, it would appear that Ekblad was hurt on the initial contact:

The good news is that Ekblad, in good spirits, popped out of the dressing room and assured reporters that he's okay