The race between Aaron Ekblad and Sam Bennett is incredibly close and either one could go first overall. Both have their fans. At different points this year, I flip/flopped between which one to rank first. Ultimately, I’m going with Aaron Ekblad. I think what really sold me on him was his performance at the WJCs where I felt like he was Canada’s top defenseman. It’s been a long time since we could say that Canada’s top defenseman at the U20s was an 18 year old. I think the other thing that really impressed me this year was Aaron Ekblad’s development as an offensive defenseman. His ability and confidence as a puck mover really took off this year (and helped to secure his appointment as the OHL’s defenseman of the year). Ekblad looks confident skating the puck out of the zone now and is actually taking chances across the opposing blueline, using his size to protect the puck. A lot of his success in doing that also has to do with the improvements he’s made to his first few steps and overall top skating gear. He also grew leaps and bounds as a powerplay QB this year, doing a much better job of getting in position to use his mammoth point shot…and actually getting it through to the net. He was keeping pucks in better at the line and displayed more confidence and patience as a distributor at the point.

At the same time as his offensive game was growing, his defensive game remained dominant. Because of his Ekblad’s and the improvements made to his skating, he’s very difficult to beat on the outside, perhaps one of the toughest defenders to get around in the OHL. He also played with more piss and vinegar in the corners and in front of the net, although I’m sure scouts would love to see him play with even more aggression in those areas (to utilize his 6’4, 200lbs body). The best thing about Ekblad is how physically and mentally mature he is. IMO, he’s ready to jump right into the NHL next year and have an impact at both ends of the ice. The offensive game may still take a bit of time at the NHL level (as it took him time to gain confidence at the OHL level), but he’s a potential franchise defenseman and future captain who also happens to be one of the few top notch defensive prospects in a weak draft year at the position.

– Brock Otten, OHL Prospects

Aaron Ekblad Highlights

Aaron Ekblad Statistics

2009-10 Sun County Panthers Bantam AAA AHBPL-----|
2010-11 Sun County Panthers Mn Mdgt AAA AHMMPL304303434| Playoffs185162114
Sun County Panthers Mn Mdgt AAA Midget6214536766|
2011-12 Barrie Colts OHL6310192934-5| Playoffs132358-1
Canada Ontario U17 WHC-1751234|
2012-13 Barrie Colts OHL54727346429| Playoffs22710172811
Canada Ontario U17 C WHC-1752464|
2013-14 Barrie Colts C OHL58233053917| Playoffs924614-4
Canada U20 WJC-20711220|
Tournament Statistics
2013-14 Canada U18 C Hlinka Memorial522444|
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