The Florida Panthers recently signed defenseman Aaron Ekblad to an entry-level contract, but when his NHL career will start remains to be seen.
It’s common for first overall picks to jump straight to the NHL after being drafted, but Panthers GM Dale Tallon has tried to avoid putting too much pressure on the 2014 draft pick by keeping his expectations measured. Ekblad’s also set to face a fair amount of competition for a roster spot considering that the Panthers already have six defensemen signed to one-way contracts and beyond them, Alex Petrovic will also be fighting with Ekblad for a roster spot.
None of that has discouraged Ekblad though.
“If you don’t believe in yourself you’re putting yourself behind the eight-ball,” Ekblad told the team’s website. “I do believe in myself. I believe I can be on this team opening night. I’m very confident in that. I feel like I’m ready. I couldn’t be in a better position than where I am.”
Another potential road block cropped up in August when Ekblad suffered a concussion in an exhibition game between Canada and the Czech Republic. Ekblad believes he’s fully recovered at this point, but Tallon said that Florida hasn’t decided if it will let the defenseman participate in the upcoming rookie tournament.