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Ekblad makes good first impression at Panthers' development camp

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07-23-2014, 10:00 PM
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Ekblad makes good first impression at Panthers' development camp

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Growing up in Windsor, ON, just across the river from Detroit, Aaron Ekblad followed the Detroit Red Wings as a child. He attributes watching Nicklas Lidstrom as the reason he wears the number five today.

After going first overall to the Florida Panthers in the NHL Draft last month, Ekblad began his NHL journey this month at the Panthers annual development camp, taking the first step toward playing in the professional ranks.

To the surprise of no one, Ekblad received high marks from the coaching staff and other players at the camp, particularly from Panthers’ Director of Player Development Brian Skrudland, the former captain of the 1996 Florida Panthers.… read more



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07-24-2014, 09:57 AM
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Sweet write up. Lets hope things go well for him, we need a legit number 1 dman

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07-24-2014, 10:31 AM
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Being that he still has time before training camp to work on a few things and get a little stronger, does everyone think he makes the team this year? There's enough defensemen on the roster that are NHL calibre, but there really needs to be someone to play with Campbell on the top pairing. I'm not sure Ekblad is ready for that level of responsibility though. Defensemen are notoriously late bloomers, but Seth Jones managed to play in the NHL last year without much problem. It will come down to how quickly he learns positioning, anticipation, how to be physical without taking a penalty etc. These can often take years for even the best prospects to learn.

I'm hoping Ekblad can play this year because I don't know how much going back to junior will help his progression at this point. One could argue that he will learn from dominating smaller, weaker players, but he really needs to test himself against NHL sized competition to see where he needs to improve next. He has the physical tools to play in the NHL, no doubt, but the mental part of the game is where he needs to put his focus and attention. NHL coaching might be more beneficial at this point than junior coaching.

So, sent back to junior after camp? 9 game audition? Sticks with the team all year? Thoughts?

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07-24-2014, 10:42 AM
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he stays

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07-24-2014, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puck Junkie View Post
Being that he still has time before training camp to work on a few things and get a little stronger, does everyone think he makes the team this year? There's enough defensemen on the roster that are NHL calibre, but there really needs to be someone to play with Campbell on the top pairing. I'm not sure Ekblad is ready for that level of responsibility though. Defensemen are notoriously late bloomers, but Seth Jones managed to play in the NHL last year without much problem. It will come down to how quickly he learns positioning, anticipation, how to be physical without taking a penalty etc. These can often take years for even the best prospects to learn.

I'm hoping Ekblad can play this year because I don't know how much going back to junior will help his progression at this point. One could argue that he will learn from dominating smaller, weaker players, but he really needs to test himself against NHL sized competition to see where he needs to improve next. He has the physical tools to play in the NHL, no doubt, but the mental part of the game is where he needs to put his focus and attention. NHL coaching might be more beneficial at this point than junior coaching.

So, sent back to junior after camp? 9 game audition? Sticks with the team all year? Thoughts?
I think he's in the NHL all year. He's a lot different from Gudbranson who used his size to dominate in juniors. Ekblad uses his brain to dominate other players. While he can be physically imposing, he relies on positioning and hockey smarts to beat his opponents. That bodes well for his transition to the NHL, as he doesn't have to adjust his game as much as someone like Gudbranson who isn't able to be as imposing/intimidating against the bigger players in the NHL. Ekblad is pretty good in the positioning and IQ aspects of the game. The thing he really needs to improve is his skating, and he's already an average skater at worst. I don't think there's much chance that he goes back to juniors.

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07-24-2014, 11:06 AM
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Yea, IMO he is way, way, more polished defenseman than Gudbranson coming out of the draft. Hell, he's probably better than Guds right now.

Like Im Clutcm posted, while Ekblad was physically more mature than others in the CHL, he didn't use his size as his only option to play defense. He has good vision, positioning and stick skills. While his skating is average, he is smart player so he shouldn't be out of place on the ice.

I'm usually pretty worried about drafting defensemen high, and playing them right away, but I'm not worried about Ekblad.

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07-24-2014, 11:39 AM
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Ekblad is in the NHL this year, no doubt. Also, the thing about Gudbranson is that he is still really young and has a lot of time to mature with our team. He's always been a physical player but I hope he up's his D-game a little bit more, since we brought him in we haven't really had a good mentor for him. Hopefully Mitchell can provide some of that veteran presence.

Good write up!

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07-24-2014, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by MillarWithASave View Post
Ekblad is in the NHL this year, no doubt. Also, the thing about Gudbranson is that he is still really young and has a lot of time to mature with our team. He's always been a physical player but I hope he up's his D-game a little bit more, since we brought him in we haven't really had a good mentor for him. Hopefully Mitchell can provide some of that veteran presence.

Good write up!
I'm really excited to see the impact Mitchell has on Ekblad and Gudbranson. Gudbranson should be able to take the next step now that he'll have a capable partner and doesn't have to worry about his own mistakes AND his partner's. And he should also have a positive impact on Ekblad, teaching him some of the nuances of playing D in the NHL.

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07-24-2014, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Puck Junkie View Post
Being that he still has time before training camp to work on a few things and get a little stronger, does everyone think he makes the team this year? There's enough defensemen on the roster that are NHL calibre,
I don't think so; Campbell, Mitchell, Gud, Kulikov. You could also consider Olsen, but he's more likely a 7 dman. So we do need Ekblad to play this year because we don't have enough good dmen.

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07-24-2014, 01:25 PM
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I don't think so; Campbell, Mitchell, Gud, Kulikov. You could also consider Olsen, but he's more likely a 7 dman. So we do need Ekblad to play this year because we don't have enough good dmen.
You really need the top 4 to play a dependable 20+ minutes a night. The 3rd pairing can play as little as 12 minutes if you need to. Olsen is just fine as a 3rd pairing d-man being given 15 minutes a night as evidenced by him doing that last year for 40+ games and only a -3 despite not providing much offense. I think you can slot him in this year on that 3rd pairing without worrying at all.

Who plays with Olsen is a matter of whether Ekblad plays the whole year or not. I think Petrovic, and possibly even Robak, could make the jump full time this year, and if Ekblad stays then they are the 7th man, if not, they can play 12-15 minutes a night without many problems.

Just for fun, possible pairings with, and without Ekblad.

Campbell-Kulikov
Mitchell-Ekblad
Gudbranson-Olsen
Petrovic

Campbell-Kulikov
Mitchell-Gudbranson
Petrovic-Olsen
Robak

I really don't like the top pairing defensively, but I think Ekblad will need someone like Mitchell to help guide him and cover up for him when he inevitably makes mistakes, and I just don't see Mitchell playing any more than 22 minutes a night at this point in his career.

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07-24-2014, 01:40 PM
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Problem with Mitchell-Ekblad pairing is that both are not great skaters. While both have the hockey IQ to make up for their skating, it's still kind of worrisome.

Mitchell, ideally, would be best paired with Campbell.

Mitchell-Campbell would make a solid top pairing. Both can play over 20 minutes a night and both compliment each other well.

Then I think another, potentially, good pairing would be to see if Olsen and Gudbranson could spark that instant chemistry/confidence again. Pre injury to both players, it looked like a pairing that had 2-3 years of playing time together.

Then that would leave Kulikov with Ekblad, which could be great, or could have some bad moments. It all depends on which Kulikov we get.

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07-24-2014, 01:47 PM
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Im kind of concerned with the lack of excitement and buzz around ekblad. If we drafted mackinnon first this year there would be like 20 threads about him.

This is a number one draft pick, I'm not sure what to expect right off the bat but last defensemen first overall erik johnson would be the best defensemen on this team although his value first overall is debated.

Im excited about the potential with this guy. Im hoping between him, guds, and kulikov we might have a top 5 defense core in the eastern conference in a couple of years.

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07-24-2014, 01:52 PM
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Honestly I wouldn't mind if he wasn't with the club right away, he's still only 18, very few defensemen can come into the league and just maintain a decent level of play much less not have their development affected negatively.
But if he's with the big club after training camp, I'll just roll with it.

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07-24-2014, 01:54 PM
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Im kind of concerned with the lack of excitement and buzz around ekblad.

I'm not, let's wait until there's reason to be excited and let everyone else catch up.

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07-24-2014, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by ShootIt View Post
Problem with Mitchell-Ekblad pairing is that both are not great skaters. While both have the hockey IQ to make up for their skating, it's still kind of worrisome.

Mitchell, ideally, would be best paired with Campbell.

Mitchell-Campbell would make a solid top pairing. Both can play over 20 minutes a night and both compliment each other well.

Then I think another, potentially, good pairing would be to see if Olsen and Gudbranson could spark that instant chemistry/confidence again. Pre injury to both players, it looked like a pairing that had 2-3 years of playing time together.

Then that would leave Kulikov with Ekblad, which could be great, or could have some bad moments. It all depends on which Kulikov we get.
I had thought of that scenario too, but I just don't know if a 37 year old Mitchell can handle top line duties anymore. Kulikov with a rookie scares the crap out of me, not only for the defensive miscues, but more for the lack of good habits Ekblad will pick up. Mitchell should be his mentor.

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07-24-2014, 03:12 PM
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I had thought of that scenario too, but I just don't know if a 37 year old Mitchell can handle top line duties anymore. Kulikov with a rookie scares the crap out of me, not only for the defensive miscues, but more for the lack of good habits Ekblad will pick up. Mitchell should be his mentor.
Doesn't mean he has to play every shift of every game with him.

I think Campbell - Mitchell will play quite a bit together.

Campbell/Kulikov/Ekblad will get majority of PP time.

I also think Gubranson - Kulikov would be a solid pairing as long as they get their crap together.


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07-24-2014, 04:27 PM
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Honestly I wouldn't mind if he wasn't with the club right away, he's still only 18, very few defensemen can come into the league and just maintain a decent level of play much less not have their development affected negatively.
But if he's with the big club after training camp, I'll just roll with it.
I agree with this.

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07-24-2014, 08:16 PM
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Im kind of concerned with the lack of excitement and buzz around ekblad. If we drafted mackinnon first this year there would be like 20 threads about him.
Defensemen are always regarded less than forwards in the draft in my opinion. If a defenseman is taken #1 they will have a lot less buzz than if a forward or goalie was taken #1. Plus MacKinnon was talked about for years, everyone saying he is the "mini Crosby" and all of that, just like McDavid. There really wasn't any buzz leading up to this about Ekblad, mainly because it was just a normal draft, there wasn't a generational player in this draft (at least thats what the scouts think). Ekblad will be amazing, I have no doubt about that, but look at all of the past defensemen taken #1 and you'll realize why defensemen are not highly regarded being taken #1. You have Chris Phillips, Jovo, Johnson, Hamrlik, with the exception of Denis Potvin but he was drafted in 1973. Compare that to guys like Thornton, Lecavalier, Stamkos, Tavares, Crosby, Ovechkin, Kane, RNH, Nash, Kovalchuk and you understand why.

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07-25-2014, 04:04 AM
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Im kind of concerned with the lack of excitement and buzz around ekblad. If we drafted mackinnon first this year there would be like 20 threads about him.
So, we should try hyping Ekblad and give him unrealistic expectations, until it gets so old that no other fanbase (including ourselfs) takes us seriously anymore?

I'd rather be realistic than make myself look like a clown here. Lack of talk doesn't mean people aren't happy with the pick, besides the board is quite dead during the offseason compared to when the season is on.

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07-25-2014, 06:10 AM
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His competition is Robak, Petrovic, and Olsen. He should make the team pretty easily.

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07-25-2014, 09:03 AM
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If you go back to the Seth Jones thread on the main board and on the Preds board there was little talk about him and hes the best d-man prospect in a long time.

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07-25-2014, 11:57 AM
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The sad part is, his shot is probably the hardest and most accurate shot of our defenseman let alone the team. We need Ekblad and even he knows it. I like the kids' confidence and drive to become a pivotal player to help us win. Switching gears for a second, there's one thing about Barkov I noticed. He loves incorporating the defense into his offensive attack. He scored 3 out of his 8 goals by deflections from the point and he regularly fakes back to the defenseman. But, last year he had some crappy options back there. Ekblad and Barkov could make some music together. I'm thinking one-timers, shot-passes, and deflections. Ekblad needs powerplay time instantly if we're gonna score more next season.


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07-25-2014, 12:09 PM
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The sad part is, his shot is probably the hardest and most accurate shot of our defenseman let alone the team. We need Ekblad and even he knows it. I like the kids' confidence and drive to become a pivotal player to help us win. Switching gears for a second, there's one thing about Barkov I noticed. He loves incorporating the defense into his offensive attack. He scored 3 out of his 8 goals by deflections from the point and he regularly fakes back to the defenseman. But, last year he had some crappy options back there. Ekblad and Barkov could make some music together. I'm thinking one-timers, shot-passes, and deflections. Ekblad needs powerplay time instantly if we're gonna score more next season.
As long as someone gets the puck on the net (especially on the PP), I'll be happy. Last year, it felt like a huge ordeal getting the puck on net or even just through traffic. I'm interested to see what kind of PP Gallant and co. go with.

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07-25-2014, 12:29 PM
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As long as someone gets the puck on the net (especially on the PP), I'll be happy. Last year, it felt like a huge ordeal getting the puck on net or even just through traffic. I'm interested to see what kind of PP Gallant and co. go with.
Flash was the greatest Point guy I've ever seen.

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07-25-2014, 01:11 PM
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Flash was the greatest Point guy I've ever seen.

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