Yesterday at the 2013 NHL Draft, the Florida Panthers added eight new players to their system. Florida caused an early stir when they chose to select Aleksander Barkov with the second overall pick passing on highly regarded defenseman Seth Jones who eventually fell to the Nashville Predators at number four. The 6’2″ 17 year old Barkov is an elite center prospect who could be with the Panthers as soon as this season. The Panthers went against conventional wisdom when they chose Barkov over Jones and left winger Jonathan Drouin and while it is way too soon to judge whether they made the right pick, we can be sure that Barkov’s career will be compared to the careers of Jones and Drouin at every possible turn.
Aside from the somewhat surprising Barkov selection, the Panthers had a relatively quiet draft day. The only deal the team made was trading back into the seventh round sending their 2014 seventh round pick to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for the 206th pick.
Here is a quick recap of the Panthers’ draft picks:
2nd Overall: Aleksander Barkov (C)
Much has been said about this highly touted 17 year old center so I won’t rehash everything here. Suffice it to say he should be able to contribute for Florida next season. He is coming off a shoulder surgery and there has been talk about him playing one more year in Finland but I do not think Florida would have made him their guy if they doubted his ability to make an impact this season. For me details on Barkov check out this scouting report and you can watch all sorts of Barkov related video over at the Florida Panthers‘ web site.
31st Overall: Ian McCoshen (D)
The Panthers brass feel like they got a first round talent with their first pick in the second round. According to Dale Tallon, Florida had McCoshen ranked in the early 20’s on their draft board, and they think he will fill the role of the talented sizable defenseman that the team passed on when they did not draft Seth Jones with the second overall pick. The 6’2″ McCoshen will be playing for Boston College next season where he will join Florida’s 2012 first round pick, Mike Matheson on the Eagles’ blue line.
92nd Overall: Evan Cowley (G)
Many thought Florida would select a goalie with their second round pick but the team waited until the fourth round to nab the 6’4″ Cowley. Like McCoshen, Cowley will be teaming up with a fellow Panther prospect and position mate when he attends college next year. Cowley will be attending the University of Denver where he will share net duties with prospect Sam Brittain.
97th Overall: Michael Downing (D)
The Panthers used the pick they received in the deadline deal that sent Jerred Smithson to Edmonton on the 6’3″ Michael Downing. Downing describes himself as a “mean shutdown defenseman” who will not shy away from a fight. Downing will be attending the University of Michigan next season.
98th Overall: Matt Buckles (F)
The Cornell bound forward saw a lot of success last season playing in the Ontario Junior Hockey League scoring 40 goals and 71 points in 50 games.
122nd Overall: Christopher Clapperton (F)
In addition to having a great last namer, Calpperton also had a strong season playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League scoring 34 goals in in 67 regular season games.
152nd Overall: Joshua Brown (D)
The 6’4″ defender, Brown scored 16 points in 68 games while playing for the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League.
206th Overall: MacKenzie Weegar (D)
The Panthers selected a player from the Halifax Moose Heads after all. Instead of nabbing Nathan MacKinnon or Jonathan Drouin at the top of the draft, the Panthers selected the 5’11 Weegar in the final round.
You will probably see a lot of grades being handed out over the next few days but personally I think grades are silly. It is impossible to quantify how a team drafted this soon after the actual draft. It takes about five years or so before you can really judge a team’s draft. Some teams made a bigger splash than others, (I’m looking at you New Jersey Devils with your newly minted Cory Schneider) but most teams favored a similar strategy as the one used by the Panthers: quietly going about their business selecting the guys they like, and maybe making a minor trade here and there. Some players selected in the top half of the first round will make a serious impact next season, but most of the affects of this year’s draft will be felt years down the road.
With the draft behind us, we will start to see teams turning their attention to the start of free agency so expect the rumors to really get going as we approach Friday. As always, you can count of the Rat Trick for all your Panther news and opinions.