October 27, 2011; Pittsburgh,PA, USA: A general view of the 2012 NHL draft logo is unveiled at a press conference at the CONSOL Energy Center. The 2012 NHL draft will be held in Pittsburgh on June 22 and 23, 2012. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE

NHL Draft Day. Florida Panthers Motto: In Dale We Trust.

With two very successful drafts under his belt, Dale Tallon enters the 2012 NHL Entry Draft with wide eyes, an open mind, and his finger on the trigger.  Nothing really new as far as Dale is concerned.  And for those of us who are anxiously awaiting the events from tonight, don’t discount that there could be a trade or two pulled off prior to the Florida Panther’s 23rd overall pick.  While the draft isn’t exactly as deep as it’s been in previous years, there are some hidden gems of gold that the Panthers have their eyes on.

While the Panther’s previous picks have included Jonathan Huberdeau, Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov, all within the top 10, this is the first year in 12 seasons that the Panthers will be drafting as a playoff team.  Even with a low first round pick, don’t put it past Dale to trade up if he thinks that it will help the team.  Or maybe he trades down a bit and picks up two late picks in the first round.  As we all know, the last two drafts that Dale Tallon has been involved in have been nothing short of exciting.

What to watch for:

Trades:  Players like Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, Roberto Luongo and Jordan Staal are the top names that could be moved.  Anyone of these players have been rumored to be going to at least one of five teams.  Will one of them end up on the Florida Panthers?

Signings:  Panther players such as Jason Garrison and Kris Versteeg either have deals on the table, or will.  Mikael Samuelsson, and Scott Clemmensen are two veterans that the Panthers would like to keep, but as with all these players mentioned, the price has to be right.

Draft Ranking:  TSN.ca provides excellent coverage and analysis on the draft.  Their rankings can be found here.  For players in the 21-30 slot, as a Panther fan keep your eyes on Stefan Matteau the son of former NHLer and Florida Panther Stephane Matteau.  Matteau is a power forward who plays with an edge, and has some goal scoring ability. He has excellent speed and size for a player of his age.  He couldd be the “sleeper” of the draft.  Also look at Tanner Pearson,  a centre with playmaking ability. His strongest attribute seems to be his hockey sense.  A characteristic that Dale Tallon and crew look at as a priority.  Finally Brendan Gaunce a solid two way centre who is another player with size.  At 6′ 2″ and 215 lbs, he’s potential top line material to grind it out game after game.  He’s also versatile with the ability to play on the wing.

It promises to be a fun filled couple of days, with tonight’s first round being potentially the most interesting.  Make sure you check out NHL.com, the Florida Panthers website, and Puck Daddy for more dradft coverage.

In addition, make sure you visit FanSided’s NHL general page, Too Many Men On The Site, and our new site Frozen Futures, as they will be providing updates all day and night long of today’s events as they happen.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

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Tags: Dale Tallon Erik Gudbranson Florida Panthers Nhl Entry Draft Popuklar Stefan Matteau Stephane Matteau Tanner Pearson

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