After much speculation about whether or not the Florida Panthers will keep the first overall pick they did indeed keep the first overall pick, all-in-all adding six new players to their organization.
1st Round, 1st Overall – Aaron Ekblad, D
After they decided to keep the pick it came down between Ekblad and Sam Reinhart. The Panthers went with the player with the potential to be a franchise caliber defender to lead an impressive group of young defenseman already in the system. He will have the opportunity to contribute right away, potentially as a top-4 defender.
2nd Round, 32nd Overall – Jayce Hawryluk, RW
Originally listed as a center, Hawryluk will likely be a winger by time he reaches the Panthers. The small forward (5’11″) plays a gritty style of hockey that would make him a more than welcome addition as an energy player on the bottom-6. He will in all likelihood finish out his junior career with the Brandon Wheat Kings before turning pro.
3rd Round, 65th Overall – Juho Lammikko, RW
The Panthers traded into this pick after originally not having a third round pick. The 6’2″ winger plays a good two-way game and likes to shoot the puck all though he is probably a better playmaker than shooter. His style of play makes you hope one day he can line up with his fellow countryman, Aleksander Barkov, and play on a line together.
4th Round, 92nd Overall – Joe Wegwerth, RW
We know exactly what we are getting with the big American power forward, grit, grit, and more grit. With little to no offensive upside, his status as a ‘prospect’ will always be questionable. Look at him more as the ‘Enforcer of the Future’, a true-blue fourth line grinder ‘prospect’.
5th Round, 143rd Overall – Miguel Fidler, LW
Another player on the smaller scale like Hawryluk who plays a similar game. He showed some offensive upside in high school, all though we will have to wait to see how it translate from there to the USHL and later college to determine his real status as a prospect. He did increase his offensive output by 30-points from one year to the next despite only playing two more games.
7th Round, 182nd Overall – Hugo Fagerblom, G
With their last pick they decided to take a goaltender who is going to have to take the long road to the NHL. With Roberto Luongo in net there will be no need for a goaltender in the next 4-6 years, about the time frame before he would arrive to North America. The Jacob Markstrom experiment bombed out before it really got going, and if Fagerblom struggles – it is much easier to cut ties with a seventh round pick than a second.