The Florida Panthers selected diminutive, play-making Swedish center Elliot Ekmark in the seventh round (198th overall) of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Ekmark was projected to go somewhere in the middle rounds so this was good value pick by general manager Bill Zito.
During his draft season, Ekmark put up 12 goals and 26 points in 31 games for Linkoping’s club in the J20 SuperElit league and appeared in four scoreless games in the Swedish Hockey League.
This season, Ekmark suited up in 31 games at the top level and scored his first goal in the SHL, hos only point, and also played seven games for the J20 squad, where he excelled against his peers with two goals and ten points.
Internationally. Ekmark was part of his country’s entry in the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where he scored one goal in five games, and in late July, he was on the Swedish squad that took part in the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, MI. Ekmark’s only point at the showcase was Sweden’s only goal in a 3-1 loss to USA Blue on July 30.
According to Elite Prospects 2020 Draft Guide: Ekmark plays a smart and speedy game. He has a high frequency to his stride and can quickly gain speed from a standstill. His shot has a decent release, and he often manages to place the shot well. In his own zone, Ekmark works hard and has a very active stick, which also makes him useful on the penalty kill. He makes some good reads and manages to block some shots.
Ekmark seems to have little trouble scoring against his age group in Sweden, but when he moves up to the pro ranks his size (5’9” - 170 lbs) is a hinderance. He’ll have to bulk up, and perhaps shift to the wing when he comes to North America, but this is a player with the tools to play in the middle-six if he reaches his ceiling.