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Thread: Florida Panthers Prospects

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    Florida Panthers Prospects

    Crouse, Matheson among Panthers' top five prospects


    Written By Alain Poupart - NHL.com Correspondent, 8/11/15

    SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers have emphasized stockpiling draft picks since Dale Tallon took over as general manager in May 2010, and they've generally hit more often than they've missed.

    The Panthers have two of the past three Calder Trophy winners: Jonathan Huberdeau (2013) and Aaron Ekblad (2015). The nucleus of their up-and-coming team consists of their recent draft picks. The good news for Florida is there appears to be some more quality prospects ready to help soon, particularly at defenseman.

    Here is a look at the Panthers' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

    1. Lawson Crouse, LW

    How acquired: 1st round (No. 11), 2015 NHL Draft

    Last season: Kingston, OHL: 56 GP, 29-22-51

    Crouse, 18, led Kingston in scoring in his second season and helped Canada win the gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

    Crouse (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) is the kind of power forward the Panthers haven't had for a long time, if ever. His junior teammates called him "The Sheriff" for the way he looked after for them. Crouse said he patterned his game after NHL forwards James Neal, Milan Lucic and Rick Nash, and that combination of offense and physicality made him attractive to the Panthers. Tallon said Crouse would be given every opportunity to earn a roster spot immediately, but he'll have to fight off other promising young players.

    Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

    2. Michael Matheson, D

    How acquired: 1st round (No. 23), 2012 NHL Draft

    Last season: Boston College, H-EAST: 38 GP, 3-22-25; San Antonio, AHL: 5 GP 0-2-2

    Matheson, 21, signed with the Panthers last spring after completing his third season at Boston College and got some professional experience with San Antonio of the American Hockey League. Matheson led BC defensemen in scoring all three of his college seasons and was captain in 2014-15.

    Ekblad impressed with his two-way game and his poise; Matheson's biggest asset from the time he was a first-round pick has been his skating ability. At 6-foot-2, 192 pounds, he's a good outlet passer and looks like someone who eventually will log a lot of power-play minutes.

    Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

    3. Rocco Grimaldi, C/RW

    How acquired: 2nd round (No. 33), 2011 NHL Draft

    Last season: Panthers, 7 GP: 1-0-1; San Antonio, AHL: 64 GP 14-28-42

    Grimaldi, 21, was called up twice by the Panthers in 2014-15, his first professional season, after playing well enough in training camp to earn a roster spot but being blocked by veterans with one-way contracts. He scored his first NHL goal against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 22 in his final game of the season.

    Grimaldi (5-foot-6, 180) lacks prototypical size, but he showed good offensive instincts in his limited NHL appearances. The Panthers' four veteran free-agents-to-be from last training camp are gone, so Grimaldi has a clearer path to a roster spot.

    Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

    4. Ian McCoshen, D

    How acquired: 2nd round (No. 31), 2013 NHL Draft

    Last season: Boston College, H-EAST, 35 GP: 6-10-16

    McCoshen, 20, will be heading back to Boston College for his junior season and was selected in the spring as one of its alternate captains for 2015-16. He earned Hockey East honorable mention recognition last season.

    Although McCoshen doesn't have Matheson's skating ability, he might have enjoyed a better 2014-15 season at BC. In addition to finishing plus-14, McCoshen led BC with 64 blocked shots. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, he plays a solid two-way game.

    Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18

    5. Jonathan Racine, D

    How acquired: 3rd round (No. 87), 2011 NHL Draft

    Last season: San Antonio, AHL: 70 GP, 0-7-7

    Racine, 22, made his NHL debut in April 2014 when he appeared in one game for the Panthers. He spent all of last season with San Antonio and led it with 149 penalty minutes.

    Racine (6-2, 194) is the most physical and aggressive of all the Panthers' prospects at defensemen even though he's not huge by NHL standards. Racine is a fearless competitor who plays a responsible defensive game, which should land him an NHL roster spot at some point despite his limited offensive upside.

    Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

    Jagr tells the crowd that he wanted to make a beautiful goal but ... "It hit my ass," he said.

    "You know what was great, was today one of his fans mooned me, and he had Happy, written on his ass, HA on one cheek, and then sure enough PPY, right there on the other" ~ Shooter McGavin

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    This article was written before the 2015 NHL Draft

    Ekblad tops among solid group of Florida Panthers prospects

    Written By David Hahn, May 20th, 2015

    The 2014-15 season may not have ended the way the Florida Panthers wanted it to, but they boast a wealth of prospects who are on the cusp of breaking through with the big club. Among them, Aaron Ekblad is an obvious choice to win a number of awards, but I’m limiting him to one category—allowing others the opportunity to shine.

    The Panthers system is stocked with quite a few collegiate players. In particular, a pair of Boston College defensemen shined this year, as did a surprising name from the University of Michigan. On the professional end, the Panthers had a few players who split the season between the NHL and AHL level, with Vince Trocheck and Alex Petrovic earning quality minutes over the course of the season. Finally, a pair of CHL players will carry some intrigue with them heading into next season.

    Hardest Worker: Vince Trocheck, C, Florida Panthers/San Antonio Rampage (AHL)

    As a former captain of the Saginaw Spirit in the OHL, Vince Trocheck knows all about hard work and what it takes to succeed. It’s been a long two years since then, but Trocheck’s ascent to the NHL came from a deliberate focus on doing the little things coaches always preach about. Stuck behind a deep group of centers, Trocheck had to deviate from his usual self, a nearly point-per-game producer at the AHL level.

    The change didn’t come easy at first; in San Antonio, he ironed out the finer points of his game, especially in the defensive zone. He became a more complete player and learned that he needed to compete every shift. He was rewarded with two long stints in Florida, where he suited up for 50 games.

    Most of his goals came the hard way, by getting to the net and outworking the other team. In totoal, he registered seven goals and 15 assists in the NHL. That’s a positive sign for the Panthers, who hope that Trocheck’s offense will carry to the NHL level, as he builds off the success from this year.

    Hardest Shot: Ian McCoshen, D, Boston College (Hockey East)

    The crowded Boston College backend features three NHL draft picks taken no later than 42nd, and a sure-fire 2015 top ten pick in Noah Hanifin. Still, Ian McCoshen outshines his peers in one key category—his devastating shot. The big goal totals may not be there, but McCoshen has been a threat on the man advantage due to his low, accurate, hard shot.

    The Faribault, Minnesota native also joined Team USA at the World Junior Championships for the second consecutive season. He failed to register a point, but was lauded for his success in the defensive zone.

    McCoshen should return to Boston College for at least one more year of hockey. It will be interesting to see if he can improve his point totals while remaining defensively responsible.

    Best Defensive Prospect: Mike Matheson, D, Boston College (Hockey East)

    McCoshen’s teammate at Boston College, Mike Matheson has been a staple on the Eagles blueline. Since departing the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL, Matheson has steadily improved his overall game over the last three years—culminating with his captaincy this season.

    Matheson again put up points this year, finishing with three goals and 22 assists over the course of 38 games. It was his third consecutive season with at least 20 points, a great sign for a developing player. He is a strong skater, who handles the puck admirably well, and has a keen sense of what to do with the puck in pressure situations.

    Lauded as more of a point producer, Matheson’s ability to defend improved over the course of the season, resulting in BC’s legendary head coach Jerry York giving Matheson more responsibility.

    At the conclusion of the season, Matheson signed his entry-level contract with the Panthers and was assigned to the San Antonio Rampage for a brief five game stint. Moving forward, the former first-round pick will be a key player to watch as the Panthers look to surround their franchise prospect Aaron Ekblad with talent.

    Fastest Skater: Quinton Howden, LW, San Antonio Rampage (AHL)

    The only thing that can slow Quinton Howden down is injury, and unfortunately for Howden, two injuries curtailed what was to be his breakout season. He missed 19 games at the beginning of the season, returned for a handful, and was sidelined for an additional 23 due to a separate ailment.

    When he’s on the ice, Howden is an explosive straight-line skater. He doesn’t have a ton of finesse, but when you have the ability to cut the corner on a defenseman, not much is needed. Howden finished the season with three goals and 15 assists in 33 games, slightly behind where he was one calendar year ago.

    The NHL is evolving into a speed game, something Howden has plenty of. The Panthers have given the former Moose Jaw Warriors standout 34 games at the NHL level, and provided he is healthy, the track to return to the NHL will be laid out in front of him.

    Prospect of the Year: Aaron Ekblad, D, Florida Panthers (NHL)

    Hockey Canada got it right when they granted Aaron Ekblad exceptional status, allowing the defenseman to enter the OHL one year early. The extra year with the Barrie Colts helped prepare Ekblad for the rigors of day-to-day life in the NHL.

    Most full-time NHL defenseman take a few years until they look at home, but Ekblad looked poised and confident. He did it all this season, from working on the powerplay to killing penalties—logging significant minutes for the Panthers.

    Ekblad finished his freshman campaign with 12 goals and 27 assists, good for eighth among NHL rookie skaters. He logged nearly 22 minutes per night, most of that alongside NHL veteran Brian Campbell, who had to elevate his own game just to keep up with Ekblad.

    Following the conclusion of the season, Ekblad was invited by Hockey Canada to participate in the IIHF World Championships, where he had four goals and three assists through eight games. At this point, nothing is surprising, but the Calder-nominated defenseman’s ascent to the top-tier at his position was a quick one, and his ceiling isn’t even in sight yet.

    Breakout Player for 2015-16: Jayce Hawryluk, C, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

    Depending on how things work out with trades and graduations this offseason, Jayce Hawryluk may be thrust into a leadership role in his fourth season in the WHL. It’s that opportunity and suggestion that will offer Hawryluk a chance to breakout as his pedigree and point totals suggest.

    The Brandon Wheat Kings made a long run this season in the WHL Finals, falling short in a series sweep to the Kelowna Rockets. Despite the setback, it was a fantastic season for Brandon, and Hawryluk was right in the middle of it. The 2nd round pick finished with one more point than the year before, 65 in total. He also stepped up his game in the playoffs, adding another 19 points, and finishing among the top ten in WHL playoff scoring.

    Despite the numbers and appearance of success, Hawryluk didn’t take a major step forward most prospects do in their third junior-eligible season. However, the Wheat Kings will again be a contender next year, and if they hope to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup, Hawryluk will need to breakout in a big way.

    Most Improved Prospect: Zach Hyman, C, University of Michigan (Big Ten)

    To put it fairly, not much was expected of Zach Hyman’s senior season at the University of Michigan. The owner of a grand total of 35 points over the course of his first three collegiate seasons, the former Hamilton Red Wings captain was lauded as a role player who simply didn’t possess the offensive instincts to compete at the next level.

    Well, that changed this year, as an older, wiser Hyman dismantled opponents all season. He finished with 22 goals and 32 assists, good for fourth overall in NCAA scoring. Hyman certainly benefitted from playing with Detroit Red Wings draft pick Dylan Larkin, who also enjoyed a ridiculous season.

    Make no mistake, however—Hyman was plenty productive in his own right. He remains without a contract, and questions loom over his intentions to sign with Florida. As the most improved prospect in the Panthers system, pursuing Hyman should be a priority this offseason.

    Overachiever: Alex Petrovic, D, Florida Panthers/San Antonio Rampage (AHL)

    Since departing the Red Deer Rebels in 2011-12, Alex Petrovic has quietly ascended through the Panthers system and become a reliable bottom-pairing option. He was afforded a handful of NHL games over the last two seasons, but never stuck as anything more than a depth option in case of suspension or injury.

    However, Petrovic earned 33 games with the Panthers, and did not look out of place after previously being labeled as a depth defenseman. There might be something more lurking here though, as Petrovic has slowly but surely added a bit of offense to his game, finishing the year with 3 goals and 17 assists through 41 AHL games.

    He has been a tough customer, dropping his gloves willingly when called upon. Not only has he fought for his teammates, but he has worked on his game and earned a share of regular playing time at the NHL level moving forward.

    Underachiever: John McFarland, RW, San Antonio Rampage (AHL)

    As a former second round pick, John McFarland has toiled through the Panthers minor league system and hasn’t been particularly impactful. He split each of the last two seasons between San Antonio and the Panthers ECHL affiliate in Cincinnati.

    The only good news about McFarland’s season was that he was not demoted to the ECHL, yet he still hasn’t found a suitable role in the AHL. He doesn’t compete particularly hard—especially away from the puck—but he does have the ability to score consistently. Nightly effort has been elusive for McFarland though, who finished the regular season with just 10 goals and nine assists in 46 games.

    He fought through a couple minor injuries this season, but was also a healthy scratch on occasion. He will need to become more than just a goal scorer if wants a chance at playing for the Panthers, or anywhere else at the next level.

    Highest Risk/Reward Prospect: Juho Lammikko, LW, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

    Before looking back at the season Lammikko just had, it’s important to note that no less than four teams are in a battle to vie for his services. That’s for good reason, as Lammikko recently finished his first full season in North America with the Kingston Frontenacs.

    Originally billed as a player who may not put in a consistent effort, Lammikko excelled playing in Kingston’s defense-first system. He displayed good work ethic on most nights, and contributed in all three zones. Not only was he solid away from the puck, but Lammikko was difficult to contain once he got it. He finished with 18 goals and 26 assists in 64 games, good for fourth on the Frontenacs in scoring.

    Most parties are fairly certain that Lammikko will not be returning to Kingston next season, and it has been widely speculated that he will return to professional hockey in Liiga with Asset, his previous team. Interestingly, the Madison Capitals of the USHL took a late round flyer on him, and his KHL rights were recently traded to SKA St. Petersburg. Among all this speculation, one team in particular is missing—the Florida Panthers. While it has yet to be determined where Lammikko will spend next season, it is concerning that a number of teams are in pursuit.
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

    Jagr tells the crowd that he wanted to make a beautiful goal but ... "It hit my ass," he said.

    "You know what was great, was today one of his fans mooned me, and he had Happy, written on his ass, HA on one cheek, and then sure enough PPY, right there on the other" ~ Shooter McGavin

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    Several Florida Panthers prospects ready to make the jump in 2015-16

    Written By Chris Roberts, September 16th, 2015

    The Florida Panthers are defense and center-heavy in terms of prospects, and this season will provide those players a chance to vault themselves ahead on the depth chart. The organization’s prospects are spread fairly evenly across all four levels—pro, junior, amateur and overseas—with intriguing prospects at each.

    Top prospect Mike Matheson will make his pro debut, likely in Portland of the AHL, while the team’s recent first round pick Lawson Crouse should return to junior and play a pivotal role with the Canadian World Junior team. The Panthers also have a goaltender worth following at every level this season; the hope is that one can rise above the others to top-prospect status.

    Pro

    Top Prospect

    Mike Matheson, D, Portland Pirates (AHL)

    There’s certainly more seasoned prospects at the pro level (Rocco Grimaldi, Connor Brickley, etc.) but the Panthers are excited to have former Boston College captain Mike Matheson in the fold this season. Matheson opted to forego his final season of NCAA eligibility to join the Panthers. In three seasons with BC, the 6-foot-2, smooth-skating rearguard recorded 71 points in 122 games. He has stayed healthy as well, despite playing a physical brand of hockey.

    At the end of last season Matheson got a taste of pro hockey by playing in five games with the Panthers previous affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage. The rookie would have to impress significantly in training camp to begin the season in Florida, but it’s not unreasonable to expect him to see time there throughout the year.

    NHL-bound Prospect

    Rocco Grimaldi, C, Portland Pirates (AHL)

    Grimaldi spent the majority of last season in San Antonio of the AHL, but the diminutive center has a legitimate chance to open the 2015-16 season in Florida. He dressed in seven games for the Panthers last season and scored his first career NHL goal. In the AHL, Grimaldi finished fifth on the team in scoring with 42 points in 64 games.

    The Panthers didn’t add much in the offseason save for Reilly Smith, though they created an opening by dealing Jimmy Hayes to make room. There should be one or two spots open for a player from the AHL to crack the roster up front, and Grimaldi, along with perhaps Brickley, is in prime position to grab one of them. He participated in the team’s rookie camp, which should prepare him well for training camp, and his offensive talents, despite his lack of size, could give him an edge in the battle for a roster spot.

    Unsigned for 2016-17

    Logan Shaw, RW, Portland Pirates (AHL)

    Entering the final year of his entry-level contract, Nova Scotia native Logan Shaw will hope to build off a breakthrough 2014-15 season in which he proved himself a productive AHL player. Shaw spent 20 games in the ECHL in his rookie season after recording just 8 points in 46 games with San Antonio. Last season, however, he spent the entire year in the AHL and finished 10th in scoring on the team with 25 points in 69 games. He was also tied for fifth on the team in goals with 13.

    The Panthers are spread quite thin on the right side in terms of prospects, particularly at the pro level, so that might work toward Shaw’s favour in terms of earning another contract. That said, the team won’t keep him around simply to fill an organizational need; he’ll need to improve his standing in the organization with another solid season in the AHL.

    Junior

    Top Junior Prospect

    Lawson Crouse, LW, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

    A physical specimen with underrated offensive skills, Lawson Crouse will lead both the Kingston Frontenacs and the Canadian World Junior team this season. He was quickly signed to an entry-level contract by the Panthers, and could perhaps impress enough in training camp to earn a look, but the Panthers would be better off not letting him eclipse the nine games he is afforded before burning a year from his restricted status.

    Last year, scouts argued over whether or not Crouse was as strong a prospect as others made him out to be. Although he may not be a sure-fire first line NHLer, what is certain is his ability to use his 6-foot-4, 215 pound frame to his advantage and finish scoring chances in tight to the net. He led the Frontenacs in scoring last season despite playing just 56 games; another season on the improving team, where he can develop his skating stride and defensive instincts, would not be the worst thing for his development.

    Offensive Breakout

    Jayce Hawryluk, C, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

    It might be much to suggest Manitoba native Jayce Hawryluk can once again top his offensive production rate—he has done so in his previous two seasons—but the Brandon Wheat Kings are a legitimate WHL powerhouse. And Hawryluk, along with overage Tim McGauley, will provide a solid one-two punch down the middle. He scored 30 goals in 54 games last season and recorded 69 points. He also recorded 19 points in 16 postseason games.

    The Wheat Kings boast an impressive crop of young forwards beyond the duo, including potential number-one overall pick in 2017 Nolan Patrick, who has already scored 30 goals in the WHL. It won’t be difficult for Hawryluk to pick up assists next season, and with a strong group of puck-moving defenders, he should be able to top the 30-goal mark once again this season.

    Amateur

    Top Amateur Prospect

    Ian McCoshen, D, Boston College (Hockey East)

    With fellow Panthers prospect Mike Matheson opting to turn pro and the departure of Noah Hanifin, former second round pick Ian McCoshen will anchor a revamped BC Eagles defense this season. The junior is coming off an impressive season in his own right and finished fourth amongst the team’s defensemen in scoring with 16 points in 35 games. His six goals also tied for the lead with Teddy Doherty.

    McCoshen is a similar player to Matheson, but has a bit more size to his frame and is a little more physical. He led the Eagles in penalty minutes last season with 63. With increased duties that likely will include first-unit power play and penalty killing time this season, however, McCoshen will need to stay out of the penalty box as much as he can.

    Offensive Breakout

    Matt Buckles, C, Cornell University (ECAC)

    Cornell was an underwhelming team last season, having scored just 57 goals in 31 games. One of the few bright spots offensively, considering the limitations of the team, was sophomore Matt Buckles. The 19-year-old Toronto native scored eight goals, which was good enough for second on the team, doubling his total of four from the year prior.

    He should account for even more of the team’s offensive production this season with two of the team’s top five scorers departing due to graduation. He has the size and skill—in 2012-13 with the St. Michael’s Buzzers of the OJHL he scored 40 goals in 50 games—to become an effective first-line scoring pivot at the NCAA level, and he should be given every opportunity to do so this season.

    Unsigned for 2016-17

    Ed Wittchow, D, University of Wisconsin (Big Ten)

    A 25-game season in 2014-15 in which he failed to hit the scoresheet doesn’t bode well for the possibility of Wittchow signing with the Panthers once his collegiate career is over. That said, the 6-foot-4, 215 pound rearguard is not known for his offensive ability. If he can provide a steady, calming presence in his senior season for the University of Wisconsin this season, he might get a look.

    Wittchow is a former sixth round selection so it’s not as though his status in the organization is secure. He had a decent season in 2013-14 with seven points in 37 games, but was unable to replicate that success last season. Last year the Badgers won just four games; Wittchow will act as the team’s captain this season and his ability to help turnaround the team will affect whether or not he receives a contract.

    Europe

    Top European Prospect

    Juho Lammikko, LW, Ässät (Liiga)

    It will be interesting to see how Juho Lammikko fares in his return to Ässät after a season away in North America playing for the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. The 6-foot-3, 203 pound winger took time to adjust to the North American game but should ultimately become a better player for the experience. Back on the bigger ice surface this season, he should be able to crack the Ässät team and play a pivotal role. in 2013-14, he spent 20 games with the team but recorded just one assist.

    The former third round pick is a strong two-way player with adept playmaking and anticipation skills. That alone should help him stick with the team throughout the season, but it wouldn’t be too much to expect a 15-20 point campaign as he develops his offensive game against older competition.

    Offensive Breakout

    Denis Malgin, C, ZSC Lions (NLA)

    Malgin is a classic example of an undersized but supremely talented forward. The 5-foot-8, 163 pound Swiss center could still fill out some, but it’s his offensive ability that could one day lead him to the NHL. He compares similarly to Grimaldi, though obviously not as polished; Malgin is shifty, has great vision and skating abilities, though he could use added strength to improve his shot.

    Last year Malgin split his time between the top two leagues in Switzerland. He played 23 games with Zurich of the Swiss A league and scored twice while adding six assists. In 18 playoff games he became a more reliable source of offense, scoring four goals. Zurich was a relatively old team last season with just four of its top 12 scorers under 25. Malgin and defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler (WSH) were the only under-20 players to make a considerable impact on the team. Given his impressive playoff performance and the experience gained last season, it’s hard to imagine Malgin not playing a more prominent role for Zurich.

    Unsigned for 2016-17

    Alexander Delnov, LW, Zvezda-VDV Dmitrov (VHL)

    Delnov is similar to Lammikko in that he came to North America to play junior hockey, but has since returned to his home country of Russia. The 21-year-old winger spent two seasons with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, where he recorded 112 points in 140 regular season games. However, after failing to receive a contract offer from the Panthers last year, he returned to Russia to play in the country’s top junior league, the MHL. He exceeded expectations there by recording 48 points in 42 games, but was able to play in just two games for Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk of the KHL.

    Playing in Russia allows both Delnov and the Panthers time to decide on whether or not they will pursue a contract. He needs to work on his conditioning and defensive play before he merits one, and this upcoming season could go a long way in determining that. He will turn 22 in January and if he can’t yet be trusted to log meaningful minutes in the KHL then an NHL career will likely be out of the question.
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

    Jagr tells the crowd that he wanted to make a beautiful goal but ... "It hit my ass," he said.

    "You know what was great, was today one of his fans mooned me, and he had Happy, written on his ass, HA on one cheek, and then sure enough PPY, right there on the other" ~ Shooter McGavin

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    Top prospects for Florida Panthers

    Michael Matheson, Ian McCoshen could make impact on defense

    by Alain Poupart / NHL.com Correspondent

    NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 30 teams throughout August. Today, the Florida Panthers.

    The Florida Panthers have made good use of the NHL Draft to assemble a group of prospects who could help them take the next step.

    A lot of those prospects have played key roles in turning the Panthers from a struggling franchise into a team that appears on the verge of contending for the Stanley Cup, but there could still be more help on the way.

    Here are the Panthers' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

    1. Michael Matheson, D

    How acquired: Selected with No. 23 pick of 2012 NHL Draft

    Last season: Florida: 3 GP, 0-0-0; Portland (AHL): 54 GP, 8-12-20

    One year after ending his career at Boston College, Matheson, 22, made his NHL debut on Feb. 20 and was recalled from Portland of the American Hockey League again for the final game of the regular season. He was a healthy scratch for the first game of the Eastern Conference First Round against the New York Islanders, but played on the first defensive pairing with Aaron Ekblad by the end of the series.

    Matheson followed that up by winning the best defenseman award at the 2016 IIHF World Championship, helping Canada win the gold medal.

    Matheson (6-foot-2, 192 pounds) will come to training camp with the expectation of not only making the Panthers roster but that he could play a significant role this season.

    "There were obviously high expectations," coach Gerard Gallant said. "He finished his college career and then he comes to the American Hockey League and plays almost a full season, which is real good development for him, and then he comes to our team and he shows what he's all made of. I mean, his skating ability is second to none, he moves the puck, he skates the puck real well. He's going to be a real good hockey player for us for a long time, hopefully. We liked what we saw last year definitely, the two or three games he played and then in the playoffs he did a great job for us."

    Projected NHL arrival: This season

    2. Ian McCoshen, D

    How acquired: Selected with No. 31 pick of 2013 NHL Draft

    Last season: Boston College (NCAA): 40 GP, 6-15-21

    McCoshen, who played with Matheson at BC for two seasons, signed an entry-level contract with the Panthers on July 1 after completing his junior season.

    McCoshen (6-3, 217) led the Eagles with a plus-30 rating last season. The 21-year-old has the kind of toughness and defense-first mentality the Panthers lost when they traded Erik Gudbranson, the No. 3 pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, to the Vancouver Canucks for forward Jared McCann and two picks on May 25.

    "We definitely think he's got a great chance of making our roster right out of training camp," general manager Tom Rowe said. "We like him that much. We think he's a big, big piece of what we're trying to do. His ability is the piece that we feel can replace what we lost in Erik Gudbranson, a real steady, stay-at-home, strong defensive defenseman."

    Projected NHL arrival: This season

    3. Lawson Crouse, LW

    How acquired: Selected with No. 11 pick of 2015 NHL Draft

    Last season: Portland (AHL): 2 GP, 0-0-0; Kingston (OHL): 49 GP, 23-39-62

    Crouse, 19, made a cameo appearance in the AHL on a tryout basis after averaging more than a point per game for the first time in three seasons with Kingston in the Ontario Hockey League.

    Crouse (6-4, 211) would bring needed size, but he'll have to win a roster spot in training camp.

    "He's a high prospect," Rowe said. "We all like him a lot, but we're not going to give anybody a job. He's got to come in and earn it."

    Projected NHL arrival: Next season

    4. Jayce Hawryluk, C

    How acquired: Selected with No. 32 pick of 2014 NHL Draft

    Last season: Brandon (WHL): 58 GP, 47-59-106

    Hawryluk, 20, signed an entry-level contract on March 1 before helping Brandon win the Western Hockey League title. His offensive production increased dramatically last season; he finished with 41 more points than in 2014-15.

    Hawryluk (5-11, 186) is a hard-nosed player with offensive ability, but he likely won't earn a roster spot this season given Florida's depth at center with Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, Nick Bjugstad and Derek MacKenzie.

    Projected NHL arrival: Next season

    5. Henrik Borgstrom, C

    How acquired: Selected with No. 23 pick of 2016 NHL Draft

    Last season: HIFK Jr. (Finland-Jr.): 40 GP, 29-26-55

    The selection of Borgstrom (6-3, 185) came as a surprise to many, but the European prospect was regarded as one on the rise. Borgstrom, 19, has great playmaking and offensive skills, but he'll need to get stronger before he plays in the League. He will spend next season at the University of Denver.

    Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

    Jagr tells the crowd that he wanted to make a beautiful goal but ... "It hit my ass," he said.

    "You know what was great, was today one of his fans mooned me, and he had Happy, written on his ass, HA on one cheek, and then sure enough PPY, right there on the other" ~ Shooter McGavin

  5. #5
    The Legend Killer
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    Top prospects for Florida Panthers

    Borgstrom, Tippett among forwards who could play in NHL this season

    by Alain Poupart

    August 13th, 2018

    1. Henrik Borgstrom, F
    How acquired: Selected with No. 23 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

    Last season: Florida: 4 GP, 1-0-1; University of Denver (NCAA): 40 GP, 23-29-52

    Borgstrom, who turned 21 on Aug. 6, will compete in training camp to earn the third center spot behind Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck. He signed a three-year, entry-level contract and made his NHL debut March 29 after Denver was eliminated from the NCAA Division I men's tournament. He scored his first NHL goal April 8 in the Panthers' final regular-season game. Borgstrom (6-foot-3, 185 pounds) was one of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award last season and has excellent puck-handling and playmaking abilities.

    Projected NHL arrival: This season

    2. Owen Tippett, F
    How acquired: Selected with No. 10 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

    Last season: Florida: 7 GP, 1-0-1; Springfield (AHL): 5 GP, 1-1-2; Mississauga (OHL): 51 GP, 36-39-75

    The 19-year-old began last season with the Panthers but was returned to Mississauga on Nov. 6 before he finished the season with Springfield of the American Hockey League. Tippett (6-1, 200) will be among several forwards competing for a spot on the third and fourth lines. His offensive ability, highlighted by one of the best shots in the organization, could earn him a job, but the Panthers may decide his defense needs work before he's ready to be a full-time NHL player.

    Projected NHL arrival: This season

    3. Grigori Denisenko, F
    How acquired: Selected with No. 15 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

    Last season: Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (MHL): 31 GP, 9-13-22

    Denisenko, 18, could begin the season with the Panthers, but given their depth at forward, he likely will spend the season in the Kontinental Hockey League after making his debut in the league during its 2018 playoffs (no points in four games with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl). Denisenko (5-11, 176) didn't put up big numbers last season in the MHL, Russia's junior hockey league, but showed flashes of the elite offensive skills and playmaking that Borgstrom possesses.

    Projected NHL arrival: Next season

    4. Aleksi Heponiemi, F
    How acquired: Selected with No. 40 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

    Last season: Swift Current (WHL): 57 GP, 28-90-118

    Heponiemi, 19, will play this season for Karpat in Liiga, Finland's top professional league. He led the Western Hockey League in assists and finished third in points last season. There's little question that Heponiemi has elite-level skills with his vision and playmaking ability, but with his size (5-10, 147), he'll need to show he can withstand the physical rigors of the NHL. Playing against men in Finland will provide a better gauge than playing against junior-age players in Canada.

    Projected NHL arrival: 2020-21

    5. Maxwell Gildon, D
    How acquired: Selected with No. 66 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

    Last season: University of New Hampshire (NCAA): 36 GP, 8-15-23

    Gildon, 19, stood out at Panthers development camp in July, showing off his tremendous skating ability. As a freshman at the University of New Hampshire last season, Gildon (6-3, 191) tied for second in Hockey East among defensemen with eight goals. He needs to get bigger and stronger though, and he'll get the chance to do that with a few more collegiate seasons.

    Projected NHL arrival: 2020-21
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

    Jagr tells the crowd that he wanted to make a beautiful goal but ... "It hit my ass," he said.

    "You know what was great, was today one of his fans mooned me, and he had Happy, written on his ass, HA on one cheek, and then sure enough PPY, right there on the other" ~ Shooter McGavin

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