Aaron Ekblad resumes skating after recovering from concussion

Aaron Ekblad (center) is back on the ice weeks after suffering a concussion. (USATSI)
Aaron Ekblad (center) is back on the ice weeks after suffering a concussion. (USATSI)

The Florida Panthers had a bit of an offseason scare when first overall pick Aaron Ekblad went down with a concussion in an exhibition game during Hockey Canada’s camp for their national junior team. Three weeks after that injury, Ekblad has declared himself perfectly healthy.

Ekblad was cleared by Florida’s medical staff to participate in the NHLPA’s rookie showcase in Toronto last week. While there, he addressed his health status.

From the Canadian Press:

"The concussion is perfectly, completely gone. I feel great," said Ekblad. "I've been skating all this week, working out all this week. It's gone. I feel great."

"The work I've been doing has just been getting back into the normal paces—getting game ready on the ice. Just doing little things off the ice, bringing it back up to the weight that I was doing it before, whether it was a squat, trying to get back up to that weight because I took that time off."

Suffering a concussion is never a good thing, but the fact that Ekblad appears to have recovered relatively quickly is a positive. Losing extra training time in what is the most crucial offseason of his young life isn’t ideal, but it sounds like he’s working his way back up to what he was able to do before the injury.

Ekblad still isn’t signed by the Panthers at this point, but that is unlikely to last long. Ekblad’s contract will fall under the entry-level system which caps the amount he can receive on his first deal. Like most first-overall picks, he’d likely get the maximum available for his ELC, which is a base salary of $925,000 and bonuses that can push the annual average to north of $3 million. Only the base salary counts for this year’s cap hit.

The Panthers have to have high hopes for the No. 1 pick heading into the season. After a strong three-year career with the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League in which he had 116 points in 175 career games, Ekblad could slot into the Panthers’ blue line and possibly even see top-four minutes early on.

With that in mind, the Panthers will want their top prospect in top shape by the time training camp rolls around to help smooth the transition. After that brief concussion scare, it seems as though things are back on track.

CBS Sports Writer

Chris Peters has been a hockey writer for CBS Sports since 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for numerous outlets and edited the United States of Hockey blog, covering the sport at all levels. Peters also... Full Bio

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