The NHL Draft Combine was recently held in Toronto as the upcoming new stars of the game went through a battery of tests and interviews with potential NHL suitors. The Panthers as we know have the third overall pick in this year’s upcoming draft, unless they trade it away. They also have a number of second round choices as well, so the opportunity is ripe to either grab some young talent, and or combine a pick or two in a trade to pick up an already proven player.
Needless to say new General Manager Dale Tallon has his work cut out for him. Recently it was mentioned that current director of amatuer scouting Scott Luce would be retained, which I’m sure brings some very mixed emotions from the fan base. On the one hand with the draft so close, it makes sense to keep Luce and review what he knows and what information he can provide to Dale. On the other hand, as many Panther fans may have been hoping for Luce’s dismissal, that would ultimately leave Tallon starting from scratch with little time to assess the needs of the team. Not that Dale doesn’t have a good handle on things, but let’s be realistic, Dale will have the final say and won’t be persuaded to take any player he doesn’t want.
Past first round picks have been Dmitry Kulikov, Keaton Ellerby, Kenndal McArdle, and Michael Frolik. Frolik has been the most successful of that group so far, with Kulikov having a very bright future. While the Panthers have chosen defencemen in the two most recent draft’s, it’s obvious that offence has been a problem. Florida is weak up the middle and can definitely use some scoring, so it will be extremely interesting to see who the Panthers draft. Obviously both Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin are expected to go Edmonton and Boston respectively. The next player ranked at the number three spot is defenseman Cam Fowler. The player currently ranked fourth is Brett Connolly a right wing, with a recent hip injury.
I’m hoping for the Panthers to choose a center and there certainly are a few to consider. Ryan Johansen is the next ranked center that would be available, and has moved up the rankings from the 12th spot to the 8th spot. He has been compared to Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes and there’s nothing wrong with that. Johansen is big at 6′-2″ and weighs 192 lbs. In 71 games last season for the Portland Winterhawks Johansen had 25 goals, 44 assists for 69 points. He was a plus 17 and had nine power play goals. I have absolutely no idea who Florida is drafting as of right now, but where does it say that since Fowler is ranked third, that’s who we take?
Our most pressing need? Offence and help down the middle. Is this the guy? Who knows. Maybe, maybe not. Depends on what our scouting staff has written up and their past performance couldn’t be any worse that mine.
I’m just hoping for a serious look at some players beyond Fowler who may be able to help. I can’t say if Fowler could make the lineup this coming season, nor would I know if Johansen could. My best hope is that we don’t make a similar mistake that we have in the past and draft the wrong guy. The draft is a crap shoot sometimes. Your making a selection of a player that is less than 20 years old, still has to mature and still has to learn the game. The once in a lifetime superstar is not always easily spotted. Just don’t make the same mistake that we made in 1994 when we drafted Radek Dvorak, a very serviceable player for the Panthers. The next player chosen was Jarome Iginla!
In 2001 the Panthers chose Stevie Weiss and after nine years he may have finally had his best season. If it takes that long for a player to develop then I would have to say, we made the wrong choice.
Here’s a video from the combine for your viewing pleasure.
So, who do you think the Panthers will draft?
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