This is the second of two parts where I take time to look at some of the future players we should expect to see playing in the near future for the Florida Panthers.
In the 1st post, I talked about Nick Bjudstad, Quinton Howden, and John McFarland and the abilities that those three players offer. I also talked a little about Kyle Rau and Vincent Trocheck.
As I mentioned in, Part 1: Looking At The Future Florida Panthers I’ll be helping you understand a little bit more about why Dale Tallon decided to draft the players he drafted. Thus far this season, we’ve only seen Erik Gudbranson, (Dale Tallon’s first ever pick here with the Florida Panthers) have some actual ice time, which isn’t surprising. Erik Gudbranson looked NHL ready last season, but was sent back to the Kingston Fronteancs.
In this past NHL draft Dale Tallon selected 10 players, 7 of which, were selected in the first 3 rounds. In this final segment of Looking At The Future Florida Panthers, I’ll really be talking about Canadian Jonathan Huberdeau and the amazing success he is having right now in Juniors and with a slight injury update as well as , American Rocco Grimaldi and Swedish Rasmus Bengtsson.
In what he lacks in strength, he makes up for in height and speed. Huberdeau at the age of 18 years old is listed as 6’1″ and 171 lbs. At the beginning of the 2009-2010 Jonathan was playing for the Saint John Sea Dogs, a QMJHL team. He was a very talented player but wasn’t highly regarded as one of the best prospects around scoring only 35 points in 61 games, but during his 2010-2011 season everything changed dramatically. Throughout that 2010-2011 season Huberdeau saw himself sky rocketing up the projected draft positions, and ultimately found himself as the 3rd best prospect in the 2011 draft. Hubredeau helped the Saint John Sea Dogs finish the season as the QMJHL champions, and ultimately went on to win the Memorial Cup. And by the way he tallied 105 points in 67 regular season games, and 30 points in 19 playoff games.
The Florida Panthers selected him 3rd overall, and it’s been nothing but success for Jonathan. In his preseason action, he led the Panthers with 3 goals in 5 games, which opened eyes to many people down here in South Florida, including me. Many people thought he played well enough to make the team, but Dale Tallon felt that it would be better for his development to send him back to the Saint John Sea Dogs to grow a little more into his body, and get more experience. Thus far in the QMJHL he has tallied 28 points in 13 games, and was well on his way to a spectacular season. Unfortunately Jonathan had a minor setback when he suffered a broken foot earlier this week, keeping out of action for about 3-5 weeks. I expect Jonathan to gain some weight throughout the year and come back next season 10-15 pounds heavier, and hopefully be ready to make the team and be an immediate success for this organization. At the age of 18 the last thing the Florida Panthers want to do is rush him into a much more physical playing environment that he may not be ready for.
When you look at Rocco Grimaldi not many people think he’s was selected in the NHL draft. Listed at 5’6″ 165 lbs, what Rocco lacks in size he makes up for with speed and tenacity. Rocco Grimaldi began his junior career here in the states playing for the United States National Team Development Program, where he played on the U-18 team in the 2010-2011 season. Rocco wasn’t the tallest player on the ice, but he definitely had the most heart. He registered 73 points in 58 games, and led the USA U-18 team to a Gold medal in the 2011 International Ice Hockey Federation World U-18 Championships.
Many had Rocco at near the top of the 2011 NHL draft lists, but many scouts also feared his size wouldn’t translate well into the NHL. The Florida Panthers decided to take a leap of faith on him and drafted him in the 2nd round, 33rd overall. Rocco is currently playing at the University of North Dakota and was selected as the WCHA Preseason Rookie of the Year. A lot is expected from Rocco, and he strongly believes that he can make it into the NHL one day. Rocco is a devout Christian and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He’s an interesting person to follow on twitter .
Rasmus Bengtsson is a Swedish born defenseman that at the age of 18 has great size and ability. Rasmus isn’t an offensive minded, but can really control the pace of the game, and is a very smart player on the ice. Rasmus represented Sweden in the 2011 U18 World Junior Championships and managed to tally 4 assists in 6 games. Rasmus is still very young and has much to learn, but is part of the incredible depth the Florida Panthers have to lean on for the future. Hopefully Rasmus will continue to develop into a solid player in Europe, and one day transfer his style of play over to North America.
We look forward to watching these three players develop over the next couple of years and hopefully see all of them make impacts on the Florida Panthers
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