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Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad to represent Canada at IIHF World Championship

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Cats' rookie to don the maple leaf in the Czech Republic.

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad will get to continue his amazing rookie seasons after all, just not in the NHL Playoffs. Ekblad was among the first seventeen players named to Team Canada's roster for the 2015 IIHF World Championship taking place in the Czech cities of Prague and Ostrava.

This will be the 19-year-old's first appearance with Canada's senior team. Ekblad played with Canada Ontario at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge in 2012 and 2013. He donned the maple leaf and came away with a Gold Medal at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and played on Canada's fourth-place entry at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Sweden.

Ekblad suited up in 81 of 82 games for the Panthers and finished with 12 goals and 27 assists to lead the club's defensemen in scoring. His 39 points, a rookie-franchise record, were the fourth-highest total on the team and his +12 rating led all Cats' skaters.

Joining Ekblad on Canada's blue line, so far, will be Tyson Barrie, Brent Burns, Jake Muzzin and David Savard. Canada can register up to eight more players to its squad.

Canada will compete in Group A with the host team, Latvia, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Germany and Austria. Teams will play a seven-game preliminary round before the top four finishers in Group A and Group B move on to the quarterfinals.

The tournament starts on May 1, with Canada and Ekblad facing Latvia to get things started. Be sure to follow our prize rookie's progress as Canada goes for gold.