Last year’s first overall pick and rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad has been awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie for the 2014-15 season and is just the second player in Panthers franchise history to be chosen for the award after Jonathan Huberdeau in 2012. He also becomes the fourth 1st-overall pick in the last 10 years to win the trophy and the youngest defenseman to win the award since Bobby Orr.
Ekblad was nominated as a finalist for the award near the end of April after finishing off an impressive rookie campaign during which he tallied 39 points (12 goals, 27 assists) in 81 games, setting the Panthers’ franchise record for most points, goals, and assists by a rookie defenseman. He received his first NHL point in his first career game back on October 9th against Tampa and scored his first NHL goal on November 1st against Philadelphia. Ekblad’s +12 rating this season lead the Panthers, and his finished 2nd in points in the league for rookie defensemen with 1 point behind the leader (John Klingberg). He was also voted to the all-rookie team along with Klingerberg, Filip Forsberg, Mark Stone, Johnny Gaudreau, and Jake Allen.
Ekblad beat Stone and Gaudreau in the voting for the award with 71 first-place votes from the Professional Hockey Writers Association.