Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad has won the Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.”
Ekblad captured a tight three-way race in balloting, with his total of 1,147 voting points just enough to hold off challengers Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators (1,078) and Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames (1,026).
Ekblad, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2014 NHL Draft, set club records for goals (12), assists (27) and points (39) by a rookie defenseman. His 39 points were two shy of the NHL record for an 18-year-old defenseman (at the start of the season), set by Bobby Orr in 1966-67 (13-28—41). Ekblad led the Panthers in plus-minus (+12) and was on the ice for 88 Florida goals scored, the most of any player on the roster.
The Windsor, Ont., native is the second Panthers player in the past three years to be voted the League’s top rookie, following Jonathan Huberdeau’s Calder Trophy win in 2013.