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

Looking Into The Future: John McFarland


 

 

There has always been a lot of hype surrounding young Panthers prospect, John McFarland. Growing up as a young man in Ontario Canada, McFarland knew that he wanted to do something special with his life one day and now, he has the opportunity to achieve what his has always wanted, being a professional hockey player.

In 2007 McFarland played junior hockey with the Toronto Junior Canadiens Junior A team. During the season with Toronto, McFarland flourished while showing off his special talents to multiple different scouts. It was incredible what McFarland was able to do in such a short period of time. In just a total of 49 games, McFarland was able to assist on 69 different goals. Normally, 69 assists in 49 games is impressive, but that’s not what stands out. Along with the assist total, McFarland was also able to get the puck past the goalie a remarkable 96 times. Let’s recap here. In a span of 49 games, McFarland finished with an outstanding 165 points. It is no secret that McFarland was set for greatness after the performance that he put on during the 07-08 season. Due to his tremendous amount of success, he was selected number one overall in the 2008 OHL Priority Selection to the Sudbury Wolves. In 2008, McFarland was awarded the Jack Ferguson Award, which is rewarded annually to the first pick in the OHL Priority Selection.

His first season in the OHL was a good one. Although he wasn’t able to repeat his 165 point season, the young center still had a successful first year. In his first season he was able to impress the eyes of his coaches as he went onto score a total of 52 points, while scoring 21 goals. McFarland knew that in just a couple of years, he would officially be eligible for the NHL Entry Draft. In order to be drafted high, he must continue to keep up his stellar play.

Although his numbers dropped a little in his second full season in the OHL, McFarland knew that he was only building his draft stock. Despite a drop of numbers, he was still progressing as a player as his point total only dropped down by two points. During the 09-10 season, he scored a total of 20 goals. His first two seasons in the OHL were definitely a success. As a result of his recent success, the Florida Panthers decided to select McFarland with the 33rd pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Entering his third season in the OHL was huge as the pressure to perform well was higher than ever now that he was drafted by a NHL team. On December 9th, 2010, just a few weeks into the season, the Wolves decided to trade McFarland in a five player deal, along with fellow teammate, defender Ben Chiarot and a third round pick to Saginaw Spirit in exchange for Michael Sgarbossa, Alex Racino, Frank Schumacher and a fourth-round pick. This trade might have come as a bit of surprise to McFarland due to his previous success with the wolves. As McFarland took the ice for the first time in a Spirit uniform, he knew that he must put the mental effects of being traded behind him and continue to grow as a professional hockey player. In the 37 games that McFarland played as a Spirit that season, he was able to score 19 goals. Counting the goals that he had scored with the Wolves that season before the trade gave McFarland a total of 25 goals for the season, which is an OHL career best for him. The season ended for McFarland and the Spirit in the playoffs; however McFarland was able to score five postseason goals, which topped his previous high of three to set another personal best.

McFarland’s hard work and dedication to the game rewarded him with something that he has always wanted, a NHL contract. On April 21, 2012, the Florida Panthers came to an agreement with John as they awarded him with an entry level contract. When asked about McFarland, general manager Dale Tallon responded with, He is a hardworking and high character forward, who has the ability to score and will continue to develop both on and off the ice.”

It is clear that the Florida Panthers want McFarland around. They believe that his skill set can help improve the team at some point down the road. Although he is not there yet, McFarland continuously puts in the effort and is always proving to people that he does indeed deserve to have a contract with a NHL team. Now when he gets the call up to the Panthers is unknown. It is even possible that the team trades him away and he never gets to wear a Panther uniform, however, one day he will be wearing a uniform for a NHL team because his dedication and skills will get him to where he wants to be if he continues to push and work hard.

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Tags: Alex Racino Ben Chiarot Dale Tallon Florida Panthers Frank Schumacher Jack Ferguson Award John Mcfarland Junior Hockey Michael Sgarbossa Nhl Nhl Draft OHL Saginaw Spirits Sudbury Wolves