SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – The Florida Panthers took another big step towards their future on Wednesday when the team announced that they have agreed on a three-year entry-level contract with No. 1 overall draft pick Aaron Ekblad.

The deal was announced by Panthers general manager Dale Tallon who had several months to contemplate what to do with the first overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft but ultimately decided that selecting Ekblad was the best option for the franchise.

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“We are very pleased to have signed Aaron,” said Tallon. “He is a talented, strong, smart and hardworking defenseman who is ready to take the next step in his professional career. We look forward to watching him compete and develop at our prospects camp, throughout our main training camp and in preseason competition.”

Ekblad, 18, will begin his journey towards securing a spot on the Panthers opening night roster in eight days when Florida holds their annual camp for prospects.

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Last season Ekblad was named most outstanding defenseman in the Ontario Hockey League, finishing the season with 23 goals and 53 points.

Ekblad suffered a concussion last month while attending Hockey Canada’s world junior summer development camp but he is already back to skating and will be a full strength when the Panthers camp opens in Coral Springs, Florida.

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