2010-11: Aaron Ekblad skated for the Sun County Panthers midget minor team as a 14-year-old. In 48 midget major games – including 18 playoff contests – he scored 9 goals with 46 assists and had 48 penalty minutes. Sun County captured the Alliance championship. Ekblad was selected first overall by Barrie in the 2011 OHL Priority Draft after being granted exceptional player status by Hockey Canada.
2011-12: Ekblad was the leading scorer amongst defensemen for Barrie in his first OHL season and played for Canada Ontario in the 2012 U17 World Hockey Challenge. He scored 10 goals with 19 assists in 63 OHL games and was -5 with 34 penalty minutes. The Colts were second in the Central Division and reached the second round in the playoffs one year after finishing with the league’s worst record. Ekblad scored 2 goals with 3 assists and was -1 with 8 penalty minutes in 13 playoff games. In five games at the WHC he scored 1 goal with 2 assists and 4 penalty minutes as Canada Ontario won the bronze medal.
2012-13: Ekblad was the second-leading scorer amongst Barrie defensemen behind overage 20-year-old Ryan O’Connor in his second season with the Colts. He scored 7 goals with 27 assists and was +29 with 64 penalty minutes in 54 games; playing in just two games in December due to a lower body injury. The Colts finished first in the Central Division and reached the OHL Finals against London. Ekblad scored 7 goals with 10 assists and was +11 with 28 penalty minutes in 22 playoff games. He was the captain of Canada Ontario in the 2013 U17 World Hockey Challenge; scoring 2 goals with 4 assists and 4 penalty minutes in five games.
2013-14: Ekblad captained Canada’s gold medal-winning U18 team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August before returning to Barrie for his third OHL season and played for Canada’s U20 team at the 2014 World Juniors. A team captain for the Colts, he scored 23 goals, including 16 power play goals, with 30 assists and was +7 with 91 penalty minutes in 58 regular season games. The Colts finished third in the Central Division and reached the second round in the playoffs. Ekblad scored 2 goals with 4 assists and was -4 with 14 penalty minutes in nine playoff games. He scored 1 goal with 1 assist and had an even plus/minus with 2 penalty minutes in seven games as Canada finished fourth in the WJC. In five games at the Ivan Hlinka tournament Ekblad was +4 with 2 goals, 2 assists and 4 penalty minutes. He was ranked second amongst North American skaters in the Central Scouting final rankings and was select by Florida with the first overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
Ekblad has the complete package of size, skating ability and stick handling and passing skill with a maturity beyond his years. He sees the ice well and is adept at defending in his own end while making the players around him better. He made the jump directly from junior hockey to the NHL and has been a key factor in the Panthers' push for a playoff spot in 2014-15.
Ekblad made the jump directly from junior hockey to the NHL in 2014-15 as an 18-year-old and has averaged over 22 minutes of ice time a night for the Panthers as a rookie. Long-term he is expected to be a fixture in the Florida lineup and should only improve as he matures physically, continues to develop his skill set and becomes more familiar with the game at the NHL level.