Willie Mitchell is full of praise for Aaron Ekblad.
“I think he’s like a [Drew Doughty], but obviously earlier in the process,” Mitchell, 37, said of his young defensive partner, per L.A. Kings Insider.
“He’s 18 and he’s so talented, so you don’t really have to say too much. To be honest, he’s a really, really mature kid, like really, really mature. He doesn’t look 18, doesn’t act 18.”
Not only are Ekblad and Mitchell partnered together on the ice, the first overall pick in the 2014 draft is living with Mitchell and his wife this year. (Which is nice for Mitchell because, with Ekblad being too young to legally drink, “you always have a driver if you have a glass of wine.”)
At 6-4-5, the Panthers are off to a promising start to the season. They smoked the Ducks, 6-2, in Anaheim on Sunday, with Ekblad logging 20:49 of ice time and collecting an assist. That helper gave him 10 points, the most of any rookie d-man.
“We’re keeping our goals against pretty down,” said Mitchell. “We’re not scoring a lot, but we’ve put some good wins on the board this year against some really good teams. So you can kind of sense that the young guys start to believe.”
The Panthers are in Los Angeles tonight to play Mitchell’s old team, the defending champion Kings.