Most Florida Panthers fans are aware of the organization’s deep talent pool. Recently ESPN ranked the Cats #1 in the NHL in organizational depth. It’s always nice to hear your team mentioned in a favorable light but I think it’s important not to get too far ahead of ourselves. Many of the Cats’ young prospects aren’t ready for the NHL quite yet. Like most hockey fans, I’m a bit superstitious and prefer to focus on the present rather than what may or may not happen in the future. There are a few reasons not to get too high on the Cats’ prospects just yet.
Reason 1: The Alexandre Daigle Syndrome
Alexandre Daigle was a highly touted prospect back in 1993 when the Ottawa Senators took him first overall in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. The kid tore it up in the QMJHL. During the 1992-93 campaign with the Victoriaville Tigers Daigle put up an amazing 137 points in only 53 games. The good times didn’t last long. After Daigle got to the NHL he never scored more than 51 points in a season. The Senators even sent him back to the Q in 1994. Daigle was last seen playing in the Swiss A League. He’s had a long career but not the kind of guy you expect from a number one draft pick. The guy selected second overall in the 1993 draft was the young Chris Pronger and the Panthers snagged Rob Niedermayer fifth overall that year. Let’s just hope that none of the Panthers’ top prospects have the Daigle Syndrome.
Reason 2: The Gord Kluzak Syndrome
When the Boston Bruins selected Gord Kluzak first overall in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft it was hard not to see a little bit of Bobby Orr in the young defenseman. Kluzak had an impressive career with the Billings Bighorns of the WHL and had a good nose for the net from the back-end. Unfortunately injuries and knee problems stopped Kluzak from becoming a first-round phenomenon. Kluzak managed to skate in 80 games his rookie season but would never come close to that again.
Reason 3: The Erik Johnson Syndrome
In case you were wondering, yes Erik Johnson is still playing hockey. This kid dropped off the radar quicker than a stealth fighter. Johnson was selected first overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He’s only been in the league for a few years but he has yet to live up to the hype of a big-time draft pick. Last season Johnson skated in 73 games for the Colorado Avalanche and managed a measly 26 points and 26 PIM. He’s not the worst guy on the ice but he surely isn’t what you expect out of a player who was selected above Jordan Stall and Jonathan Toews.
Now that I’ve freaked everyone out by dragging up the worst of the first-round horror stories that have happened over the last 30 years, it would probably good to mention that most guys who are drafted first overall go on to long and productive careers. The list of success stories is much longer than the list of flops. I look forward to seeing some of the Cats’ young prospects make a name for themselves in the NHL. It’s nice to look forward to the future but it’s also a good idea to be weary of the past.
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