The Florida Panthers are left holding their breath after an injury to top-prospect Aaron Ekblad on Tuesday night.
Ekblad, the Panthers’ first overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, suffered a concussion during Canada’s 6-2 victory over the Czech Republic. The game was part of Canada’s under-20 summer development camp for World Junior hopefuls.
Attempting to enter the offensive zone, Ekblad was hit hard by 5-foot-11, 161-pound, Czech defenseman Lukas Klok and fell awkwardly to the ice. Visibly disoriented, Ekblad left the ice slowly and made his way to the dressing room. He did not return.
As a precautionary measure, Team Canada and the Panthers have agreed to hold Ekblad out for the remainder of the summer development camp.
“As announced earlier today by Team Canada, D Aaron Ekblad suffered a concussion during an exhibition game last night," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said in a statement. "We have been in communication with Team Canada and have mutually agreed to hold Aaron out for the remainder of the summer development camp, as a precautionary measure. We will closely monitor Aaron’s health for the remainder of the off-season and expect him to be ready for our rookie camp in mid-September.”
According to TSN’s Gord Miller, Ekblad came out of Team Canada’s dressing room after the game, smiled and said he was OK.
Ekblad’s injury is just the latest in a string of bad luck for Panthers prospects at under-20 development camps this summer. Defenseman Ian McCoshen was released from the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp on Tuesday for what the team called precautionary reasons.