First, Ichiro signs a contract with the Miami Marlins, and now this? I have no idea what I’m gonna do with myself. Best. Birthday. EVER.
In light of Colorado Avalanche d-man Erik Johnson’s lower-body injury, the NHL decided to name rookie rearguard sensation Aaron Ekblad to the 2015 NHL All-Star Game, promoting the Florida Panthers’ 18-year old revelation from the Skills Competition roster. Replacing Johnson-the former 2006 first-overall pick-“Eks” joins Calgary Flames‘ forward Johnny Gaudreau in Columbus, Ohio as one of three rookies slated to skate on January 25th at the Nationwide Arena.
While some have bickered, chiding the NHL for passing over such talents as P.K. Subban, it isn’t as if Ekblad’s play hasn’t warranted selection; a crucial player in Florida’s early season success, the 6’4″ 216-pounder has logged an average of 22:04 of ice-time per night, second only to New Jersey‘s Damon Severson among NHL rookies and fourth among Panthers’ skaters. His 25 points place him tied for fourth among all rookies leaguewide, pacing defensemen by a gulf of a margin; his closest competitor, the aforementioned Severson, has managed twelve. Having shattered the Panthers’ records for most assists and points by a rookie defenseman, the native of Windsor, Ontario has thrust himself into the thick of the Calder race, making a strong case to be the first blueliner to capture Rookie of the Year honors since Tyler Myers in 2009-10.
Per Yahoo Sports, he’s also leading Johnson in assists, points, and plus-minus. Something tells me it ain’t that bad of a call-up.