During the afternoon on Aug. 3rd, the Florida Panthers announced that they’ve agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with offensive defenseman MacKenzie Weegar.
Weegar, widely known for his offensive prowess, experienced a breakout campaign last year while playing for the Springfield Thunderbirds . In 60 minor league games, the highly skilled Canadian d-man posted an impressive, career-high slashline of 14G and 22A for 36 points. MacKenzie surprisingly registered 70 penalty minutes, thus demonstrating that he’s unafraid to continuously fight and play physically on the defensive end.
His star-studded campaign in the minors didn’t go unnoticed; as the Panthers’ front office rewarded Weegar’s outstanding play with a deserving call-up. Weegar participated in 3 NHL games towards the end of the 2016-17 season, unable to produce any points while amassing 4 penalty minutes in the process. The promising 23-year-old prospect will certainly play in more NHL games down the stretch for the Cats next season; especially if Jason Demers potentially gets traded or the expected injury bug begins to bite again.
MacKenzie definitely contains plenty of upside, as he’s entering his 4th professional season of hockey (all with the Cats’ organization). Dale Tallon is incredibly fond of Weegar, as he was essentially the only GM to take a shot at MacKenzie during the 2013 NHL Entry Draft (selected 206th overall). The 2017-18 season is ultimately a crucial chance for the young defenseman to discover his purpose, and earn more minutes on the Cats’ gifted d-core.
The smooth skating, puck-moving defenseman still remains unproven; as he’ll receive the opportunity to impress during the upcoming training camp period. Weegar contains an accurate wrist shot which largely helps him finish in the offensive zone, as evidenced by his overwhelmingly impressive 14 goals last season.
Barring an unforeseen injury prior to the beginning on the 2017-18 season, MacKenzie Weegar will most likely play high-end minutes for the Thunderbirds once again. He’s undoubtedly facing a difficult circumstance since Florida’s d-core is already set; and more competition for the 7th d-man spot is only getting increasingly challenging.
Fortunately, Weegar is more experienced than others competing for another spot on the club. Therefore, his odds of cracking the Cats’ opening day lineup are essentially through the roof (extremely high). However, arriving to training camp with a positive mindset and hungry mentality is critically important for Weegar. Former 2nd rounder Ian McCoshen will definitely give MacKenzie Weegar a ride for his money.
Heading directly into the highly anticipated training camp for the Florida Panthers; an energized MacKenzie Weegar will surely be searching for a permanent home on the Cats’ blue line.