Erik Gudbranson: Is The Future Now?


Photo source:  Litter Box Cats.  Thanks Donny. 

Another virus on my computer has me on borrowed time, as well as a borrowed laptop.  Thanks to newly acquired Dave Lasseter for posting a terrific article Monday, it seems as though the Rat Trick is still working on all cylinders, despite the roadblocks.  Now if we can only get our Florida Panthers to do the same, what a happy place this will be!

While Dave talked about the prospect cupboard being bare, there remains one bright prospect that might just surprise us.  As well as break a few hearts.  The third overall pick in this summers draft Erik Gudbranson has the chance to be one very special player, as well as the new face of this Florida Panthers franchise.  The question however is, is he better served going back to juniors for another season, or can he really stick and play at the NHL level this season?

Harvey Fialkov of the Sun-Sentinel caught up with coach Peter Deboer, and among other things this is what Pete had to say about Erik:

DeBoer on Gudbranson: “I was talking to [assistant coach] Gord Murphy who’s working with the [young defensemen] and he was impressed with his hands and feet for a big guy. He looks like he’s the total package. Obviously, it’s only day one. We’ll see how he reacts. Every day here is going to get tougher and tougher and obviously next weekend when the veterans get out here it goes up another level.”

Pretty high praise, but certainly anyone who has been following Gudbranson since the Panthers drafted him knows that this kid is going to be very special.  Besides his skill set, he is so well spoken, and is saying all the right things.  Maturity, confidence, poise, and talent.  What more could we ask for?  Harvey also caught this comment from Erik:

“My hopes are to stay here; that’s my goal. I came here packed to stay to be honest with you. I’m not going to sell myself short of that. That’s what I worked for this summer. I want to make this team. This is where I want to be this year.”

The kid says all the right things, hopefully does all the right things and hopefully the Panthers do the right thing.  What that is, we won’t know for a couple weeks or so.  If Erik’s as good as advertised and is truly ready do the Panthers keep him, or send him back to juniors anyway?  I can’t answer that, but I can make a comparison to two other situations that may play into this.  The Toronto Maple Leafs tossed top pick Luke Schenn into the frying pan in his first year.  He did pretty good, but last year in his sophomore season he regressed a bit.  Tyler Myers a top pick of the Buffalo Sabres taken in the first round as well, the same year as Schenn, spent one year in the minors, then last year played his first full season.  Myers won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top Rookie.  While both players played for two teams that were in different situations, it would appear that Buffalo made the right choice.  Schenn will be good, but Myers could be better.

What do the Cats do?  In either case, it’s a tough choice.  To be a 5th or 6th defenceman in the NHL may not the best thing for him.  Especially if the Panthers endure a losing season.   I myself haven’t been this excited about a player coming to the Panthers since Pavel Bure arrived.  But that doesn’t make it right to keep him here if he’ll be better served with one more year in juniors.

As much as I want to see Erik on the opening night roster, I just ask the Panthers to do one thing.  If the future of this kid is now, be sure. Be very, very, very sure.  This decision has alot more riding on it that just the team’s future.

Thanks for reading.

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Tags: Erik Gudbranson Luke Schenn Peter Deboer The Total Package Tyler Myers

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