After a great start to the World Cup of Hockey, the young North Americans will have to take on a powerhouse Russian team without the likes of Aaron Ekblad on their blue line.
According the USA Today’s Kevin Allen, the Florida Panthers’ defenceman will sit out with an upper body injury that he suffered in yesterday’s 4-1 win over Finland.
With Ekblad out, the North Americans are losing a guy who played just over 23 minutes of shutdown hockey for them against Finland. On top of that, he saw over two minutes of penalty kill time to go along with his three hits and a single blocked shot for the under-24 team.
In his place, however, they’ll dress Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba. In 81 games last season for Winnipeg, Trouba notched six goals and 21 points and played both the power play and penalty kill.
While they will be fortunate to have Trouba in the lineup tonight against the Russians, the loss of Ekblad is still one that hurts the young club. In comparison to Trouba, Ekblad notched 15 goals and 36 points in 78 games for Florida last season. He was also a plus-18 (eight points higher than Trouba’s rating.
Either way, the North American team is dressing an impressive young defenceman. Only time will tell how it will impact the youngest (and arguably the most exciting) team in the tournament.