The Florida Panthers open their prospect developmental camp on Monday, giving the best opportunity to get a glance at the Panthers’ talented farm system. It is hard not to look at some of the names on their camp roster and just get excited about the future of the organization.
But the same look at the roster makes you realize just how young this team is. When healthy, arguably their best player was an 18-year old kid who was just drafted a few months before the season started – he is still a part of the developmental camp.
You would think anytime that a player is among the best on the team, they have moved beyond attending a developmental camp, but there Aleksander Barkov sits at the top of the prospects list and also at the top of the depth chart.
Barkov may be the most representation of the Panthers this coming season. So close, but so far away. With players like himself, Nick Bjugstad and first overall pick Aaron Ekblad expected to not only lead the organization in the future but possibly as soon as this season you can why you have to force yourself to hasten the expectations.
Some of the analyst stated at the draft that it wouldn’t be a shocker if Florida competed for a playoff spot as soon as next season, and while the additions of Jussi Jokinen and Dave Bolland can only help that, it will always fall on the hands of Barkov, Bjugstad and Ekblad.
That is what makes this camp so interesting, even with Bjugstad not in it. You get a chance to see two of the team’s building block on the ice together for the first time.
Oh and it doesn’t hurt to get to see the likes of Michael Downing, Michael Matheson, and Ian McCoshen also skating around on the ice, patrolling the blue line like they all will one day.
With one of the best collections of prospects the game has to offer, it won’t take too long to realize that when they hit the ice on Monday.