Over the past couple of years the Florida Panthers have been consistently ranked number one in recruiting prospects. Some of the Cats’ success has come down to luck of high draft picks and some of it has come down to the vision of the front office. I thought it would be fun to take a look at the Panthers’ future centers as it stands right now five years on the future.
Jonathan Huberdeau is without a doubt the Cats’ top prospect as it stands right now. Hubby is a centerman and has an amazing eye for the net. In the 2010-11 season with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL Hubby put up an astounding 105 points in just 67 games. Granted, he put up these numbers in Juniors but there’s no doubt that this kind of skill will translate nicely to the NHL.
Nick Bjugstad is still in college. This kid is another center who has infinite possibilities. Bjugstad is a big guy, he’s listed at 6-6 and 215 pounds of pure hockey power. That’s big for a center but Bjugstad can move with the puck despite his size. Last season with the University of Minnesota Bjugstad put up 42 points in 40 games played and led the team in goals. This kid is a monster on the ice and in the speculative future of the Panthers, he would be a beast of a second-liner behind Huberdeau.
Drew Shore is another U.S. collegiate prospect that the Cats have had their eyes on for a while. Shore who had been playing at the University of Denver made his professional debut with the San Antonio Rampage last season. His time with the Rampage has been brief but he’s already showed the skill he had in college. In the 2011-12 season with Denver, Shore scored 53 points in just 42 games played. It’s clear that this kid will have a bright future in the NHL.
One or more of these guys will almost certainly be traded to other teams but the fact remains that the Cats have a deep pool of talent to draw from. I would expect Stephen Weiss to still be around five years from now but if only one of these young prospects pan out, the veteran Weiss will be in very solid company. The Panthers have been a shabby team in the past but the future looks very bright for the boys from South Florida.
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