Aaron Ekblad signs 3-year rookie deal with Panthers
GM: defenceman "talented, strong, smart and hardworking"
The Florida Panthers and No. 1 overall draft pick Aaron Ekblad have agreed on a three-year entry-level contract.
Panthers general manager Dale Tallon announced the deal Wednesday, eight days before Ekblad will begin competing at Florida's annual camp for prospects. Ekblad was the Ontario Hockey League's top defenseman last season, with 23 goals and 53 points.
Tallon says Ekblad "is a talented, strong, smart and hardworking defenseman who is ready to take the next step."
Ekblad also attended Hockey Canada's world junior summer development camp last month, his stay there ending early because of a concussion. Ekblad was held out of the rest of that camp for precautionary reasons.
Florida's prospects camp begins a week before the start of Panthers' training camp, the first under new coach Gerard Gallant.
Jets ink Ehlers
The Winnipeg Jets have agreed to terms on a three-year, entry-level contract with first-round pick Nikolaj Ehlers.
Ehlers, the ninth overall pick, will make $1.625 million US each season at the NHL level on the two-way deal.
The Danish left-winger had 49 goals and 55 assists last season for the Halifax Mooseheads.
The 18-year-old Ehlers was the first player to be drafted out of the QMJHL in June.