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.