Part 1: Looking At The Future Florida Panthers


This is part 1 of 2 parts that I’d like to take time to take a look at some  future players we should expect to see playing for the Florida Panthers in the next couple of years.

In 2 NHL drafts, Dale Tallon has managed to draft 23 players. 4 players were selected in the 1st round (Erik Gudbranson, Nick Bjudstad, Quinton Howden and Jonathan Hueberdeau). Along with 5 players selected in the 2nd round (John McFarland, Alex Petrovic, Connor Brickley, Rocco Grimaldi and Rasmus Bengtsson).

Thus far this season, the center position for the Florida Panthers has already been quite deep. Though we’ve seen Shawn Matthias at times in the LW position, his natural position is center. It seems that we are deep at the center position this season which has seen it filled by Stephen Weiss, Tomas Kopecky, Marcel Goc, Shawn Matthias and Mike Santorelli. Throughout the entire NHL the center position is probably thought of as the most important position. The mind set is to have 4 quality center men and be able to roll four quality lines.

One thing Dale Tallon believes is having big center men. While in Chicago, he brought in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews who are two of the best well known forwards in the league.  Kane however was drafted as a winger, and just began playing in the middle this season.  Kane has 13 points in 12 games as the experiment seems to be working quite well.  Toews on the other could very well be the most complete man in the middle in the NHL right now.  Dale Tallon knows that in order to build a Stanley Cup Championship team one needs to start with the youth system, and build them up together to be able to trust each other and learn how to play with each other much more quickly.

There are so many players in our system that all have potential to one day play for the NHL, but there are a select few that hopefully we’ll see very soon here in South Florida.

Nick Bjugstad was just the guy Dale Tallon was looking for going into the 2010 NHL draft. Bjugstad is a solid 6’5 211 pounds, which is huge even in the NHL. He has spent the season at the University of Minnesota and has registered 6 goals and 6 assists in 8 games. When I look at Nick Bjugstad, he reminds me a lot of Jonathan Toews, but Nick is 3 inches taller and a couple pounds heavier. Bjugstad looks to be a player the Florida Panthers are really excited about and I firmly believe he will be a household name in the next couple of years. He has a big body, he has a nice shot and he played in Minnesota where hockey is more than just a sport.  It’s a religion.  One other player to look out for is Kyle Rau. Kyle Rau plays with Nick at the University of Minnesota, and was a 3rd round selection in the 2011 draft by the Florida Panthers. He is also another a center and has 7 goals and 6 assists in 8 games with Uof Minnesota.

See video on Nick Bjugstad scoring for TEAM USA in the World Junior Championships.

Quinton Howden, it’s hard to believe that Howden had a really bad accident when he was a child due to a biking incident resulting in a broken femur bone. Doctors didn’t  think that he’d be able to compete at a competitive level again, but boy were they wrong. Quinton Howden spent a long time with the Florida Panthers over the summer and was one of the last players cut from the roster. Howden is another big player, listed at 6’3″.   Howden had a huge year last season with the Moose Jaw Warriors registering 79 points in 60 games. This season, he has only played in 3 games with the Warriors and has 6 points. Expect Quinton Howden to have another big year and I also see him playing a huge part in the Florida Panthers future as well.

See this video on Quinton Howden scoring on TEAM USA in the World Junior Championships.

John McFarland is once again another big center that the Florida Panthers signed to a entry level contract over the summer. He was noted as being one of the fastest players in the 2010 draft and a player who also isn’t afraid to drop the gloves. McFarland who plays with a lot of passion, thus far he has played in 16 games in the OHL with the Saginaw Spirit and has registered 19 points in 16 games. While playing with Saginaw, another player that has made some noise is another Florida Panthers prospect Vincent Trocheck who has played with McFarland while scoring 21 points in 16 games.

See this video on John Mcfarland.

See video on Vincent Trocheck.

In the next and final part of the Looking At The Future Florida Panthers, we’ll look at Jonathan Huberdeau, Rocco Grimaldi and Rasmus Bengtsson.

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God Bless and hope too hear from you soon! WE SEE RED!

Who Will Have The Best Career As A Florida Panther? Who Will Have The Best Career As A Florida Panther?

Nick Bjugstad

Quinton Howden

John McFarland