Panthers rookie Aaron Ekblad added to 2015 NHL All-Star Game

Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad leads all rookie defenseman in assists (19), points (25), power-play goals (3), game-winning goals (2) and shots (95) through 44 games played this season.

Brad Mills

Better late than never, right?

In the wake of an injury to Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson, Florida Panthers rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad has been added to Sunday’s 2015 NHL All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, the team announced Friday.

Ekblad, who was already in Columbus to participate in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday, will join Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg as the only two rookies competing in the game.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Ekblad leads all rookie defenseman in in assists (19), points (25), power-play goals (3), game-winning goals (2) and shots (95) through 44 games played this season.

At 18 years, 352 days old, Ekblad will become the youngest defenseman to play for an NHL All-Star team. He isn’t, however, the youngest blueliner to appear in the game. Dating back to when the game featured the defending Stanley Cup champion against an All-Star team, Detroit’s Larry Hillman in 1955 (18 years, 239 days) was younger.

Ekblad joins goaltender Roberto Luongo in being selected to the 2015 All-Star Game — the first time since 2000 that Florida has had two or more players represent the franchise at the contest.

Teams for the All-Star Game will be chosen at the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft on Friday at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.

You can follow Jameson Olive on Twitter @JamesonCoop or email him at JamesonOlive@gmail.com.