The Florida Panthers own the tenth pick in this years NHL draft. Let’s take a look and see what the Cats options are and how each player can fit in for the Panthers.
The first prospect that we will take a look at is the 6’3,185 pound Russian center/right-winger Klim Kostin of the Dynamo Blashikha (VHL). Kostin is a strong powerful offensive player with a high skill ceiling and terrific skating ability. Though Kostin has been plagued by inconsistency, at times he has shown he can be really dominant, so much so that one person compared him to Evgeni Malkin.
Personally, I believe that he is more similar to current Panthers forward Sasha Barkov in terms of size and playing style. Kostin would fit in very well as a top six center and would boost the Panthers power play in many ways.
The next prospect that we will have a look at is Owen Tippett, a 6’2, 204 pound Canadian winger from the Mississauga Steelheads (OHL). Tippett is a strong dynamic offensive player who can beat the opposing defender with his speed, skill, or size. Owen dominantly finds scoring opportunities every game, and is a menace to keep an eye on.
One writer has compared him to Phil Kessel because of his wicked release. He has the ability to release the puck as soon as it touches his stick. Owen wastes no time when the puck is on his stick. I believe that he has the potential to become a top six NHL forward. Tippett will likely need a year to develop more in the OHL, before stepping into the NHL.
The final prospect that should be looked at is Kristian Vesalainen, a 6’3, 207 pound Finnish winger from Frolunda (SHL). As we all know, Panthers GM Dale Tallon loves big strong forwards. Kristian could seriously be on Tallon’s shortlist.
He skates particularly well for his size and has a nice shot. When he drives to the net, he is strong enough to hold his own. Vesalainen may not be NHL ready for a few years, but is oozing with talent. He remind me a bit of Anaheim Ducks forward Rickard Rackell. Kristian could have a higher ceiling than Rackell possibly.
He has been criticized for not creating enough scoring chances and has to improve his accuracy on his heavy shot. In the long run, I truly believe that he can become a nice productive player for the Panthers. He may end up being a bottom six line NHL player, depending on how his development goes.
Personally, my preference between these three guys would be Owen Tippett, due to his scoring ability and his eye for goal. The Cats have lacked a goal scorer for years and adding Tippett to the mix wouldn’t hurt at all. Yes, most players in this draft likely wont step into the NHL right away, and neither will Tippet. Once more developed, Owen could be a very nice addition for the power-play.