June 1, 2011: Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers new head coach Kevin Dineen (left) and executive vice president

Fansided Mock Draft 2012: The Rat Trick Selects Mark Jankowski

Therattrick.com has the 23 pick of the Fansided Mock Draft 2012, and we select…Mark Jankowski.

With the deepest, best prospect pool in the NHL, this year’s draft will seem a little unnecessary for the Panthers, if that’s possible.  We have potential superstars at almost every position: Jonathan Huberdeau and Quinton Howden at center, Erik Gudbranson and Alex Petrovic at defense, and Jacob Markstrom in goal.  So with so much set up for the biggest prospects to come within the next one or two years, Dale Tallon can afford to look for a long-term project.

That shows up with Mark Janikowski.  The 6’2″, 180 lb center is regarded to be one of the biggest wild cards in the entire draft.  He has absolutely exploded playing in Stanstead College, a Quebec boarding school, but that is where many scouts become worried.  His stats of 53 goals, 40 assists, and a +/- of +51 are almost certainly inflated by his inferior competition.  However, regardless of the league he played in, the performance he has given is hard to ignore.  He has been drafted by the Oshawa Generals to play in the OHL, where many scouts will be able to see his true worth.  He might also venture to the NCAA, where he would play with the Providence Friars.  Wherever he plays, he certainly is not NHL-ready at this point of his career as development people and scouts need him to play tougher competition.

His 6’2″ frame is a plus, but not his weight.  Jankowski needs to bulk up and fill into his lanky frame if he wants to play center in the NHL.  But right now that doesn’t appear to be a problem at his age: he will turn 18 in September.  One other issue is the speed and release of his shot, which needs improving but shows a ton of potential.

But on to the positives that make him such a lucrative selection.  Scouts are very excited about his on-ice hockey IQ and his ability to distribute the puck.  He has shown great patience with the puck and very rarely makes the wrong decision between pass, shoot, or skate.  He plays a great finesse game, but if his frame continues to grow, he could tack on more physicality on to his defensive game.  Many scouts believe he could develop into a top-six scoring center with his current skill set, and if he adds more power he could become a top-line threat.

But it can’t be overstated how risky this pick is for a first-rounder.  Jankowski could be a fluke, or he could be the Panthers’ next great prospect.  But in our opinion, he’s worth the risk.  The fact that the Panthers might not need him for another few years could help his development as well.  Hopefully Dale Tallon can pull this one off and again increase the huge potential for this franchise.

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