Mark Stone
Panthers' Aaron Ekblad wins Calder Trophy as NHL's top rookie
Mark Stone

Panthers' Aaron Ekblad wins Calder Trophy as NHL's top rookie

Published Jun. 24, 2015 8:21 p.m. ET

Although he still has a few years to go before he can legally experience all of the thrills Las Vegas has to offer, Aaron Ekblad will be leaving Sin City as a big winner after capturing some well-deserved hardware at the 2015 NHL Awards.

On Wednesday night, the Florida Panthers rookie defenseman beat out Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau and Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone to win this year's Calder Memorial Trophy, given annually to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the NHL.

Ekblad, 19, received 71 first-place votes from the 157 ballots cast to become the youngest defenseman to win the award since Hall of Famer Bobby Orr in 1967.

"The entire Florida Panthers organization congratulates Aaron on being awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said in a release. "He is a highly skilled and dynamic young player who displayed tremendous work ethic, professionalism and dedication throughout his rookie season and is most deserving of this honor. He is an important part of our young nucleus of talent that will be counted upon to lead our organization to future success."


The No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Ekblad's 39 points were not only a franchise record for a rookie defenseman, but also the third-most points in NHL history by a defenseman who remained 18 years old through at least Feb. 1, finishing behind Orr (41 points) and Phil Housley (66 points).

Playing alongside veteran Brian Campbell on Florida's top-defensive pairing, Ekblad led all rookie defensemen in goals (12), power-play goals (6), power-play points (13), shots (170) and fewest shot attempts against per 60 minutes (38.04). He also finished second in assists (27), plus/minus (plus-12), hits (109) and blocked shots (80) while averaging 21:48 of ice time per game.

The Windsor, Ontario, native is the second Panthers player in the past three years to be voted the league's top rookie, following winger Jonathan Huberdeau's Calder Trophy win in 2012.

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