Panthers AHL prospects update

By Gregory Maker

Defensemen

Lukas Krajicek – The 21-year-old Czech Republic native is the top rated prospect defenseman in the Panthers system. He played 18 games last season for Florida recording 7 points (1 goal, 6 assists). Through 56 games he has passed his AHL point total of last season with 20, including a career high 18 assists, tied for second on the team. At 6’2 185 pounds, Krajicek, a point producer in junior hockey, is making the transition to a more defensive role. The transition has been difficult. He is currently a -8 on a San Antonio team that ranks near the top of the league in total goals against. Krajicek is disciplined and has only taken 35 penalty minutes this season. He will have a shot to crack the young Panthers defense when operations resume. He is gaining experience in San Antonio with Jay Bouwmeester which could help in the future.

Filip Novak – After missing all of last season with a torn ligament in his ankle, Novak has returned to action, though his production is down. After recording 27 points en route to an AHL All-Rookie Team selection in 2003, Novak has been a shell of his former self this season. Through 52 games, he has 9 points (1 goal, 8 assists). The 22-year-old did not disappoint in San Antonio during his rookie season after being acquired by the Panthers in the deal that sent Pavel Bure to the New York Rangers. He is an excellent skater and has the potential to be a solid NHL player. However, none of it will be possible, unless his ankle holds up.

Viktor Uchevatov – The 22-year-old Russian has proven disappointing in his professional career. A draft pick of the New Jersey Devils in 2001, Uchevatov played two and a half seasons in Albany, starting at the age of 18 before coming to Florida in a trade that sent Viktor Kozlov to the Devils. At 6’4 205 pounds, Uchevatov is a physical presence for San Antonio, but he is not a point producer. He has only 2 points in 37 games this season. His defensive play has not been good — he is second to last on the team with a -14 rating. Uchevatov still needs work with his stickhandling if he is ever going to have a shot to make it to the NHL.

Grant McNeill – At 6’2 219 pounds, McNeill is an enforcer. In his second season of pro hockey, McNeill has played in three leagues including three games last season for the Panthers. The Vermillion, Alberta native has a team leading 109 penalty minutes in 29 games for San Antonio this season, but only has one point, an assist. McNeill was sent down the Texas of the ECHL earlier this season where he recorded 30 penalty minutes in 11 games. He was recalled by San Antonio on Jan. 12, but was sent down again on Feb. 21. McNeill’s future in the Panthers system will rely on his toughness, not his skill.

Forwards

Nathan Horton – The 19-year-old is the top prospect in the Panthers system. The Welland, Ontario native played 55 games last season in Florida recording 22 points including 14 goals as a rookie before shoulder surgery ended his season. If not for the lockout, Horton would be playing in Florida. At 6’2 201 pounds, Horton is a strong skater with a hard shot who has the potential to become one of the NHL’s elite players. He is a power forward who plays with high intensity. Horton has nine points in 21 games this season, again marred by injury.

Rob Globke – The 6’2 200-pounder is having a solid rookie season. The 22-year-old Notre Dame product has produced only 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists) while making the transition from college hockey to the pros. Globke has a hard accurate shot which he needs to use more. He has only 31 shots in 41 games with San Antonio. He is very disciplined only taking 15 penalty minutes with the Rampage. Globke played 10 games with Texas of the ECHL this season recording 12 points (8 goals, 4 assists) and was recalled to San Antonio on Feb. 21.

Greg Campbell – Through 48 games this season, Campbell has nearly passed last season’s output of 29 points. The 6’0 192-pounder is a grinder, but can also play a finesse game. He is tied on the team with 25 points, and third in goals (12) through 48 games this season, and is also third on the team with 87 penalty minutes. Campbell is a hard worker and solid two-way player. He kills penalties and has one short-handed goal this season. Campbell played two games for the Panthers last season where he recorded five penalty minutes. His future in the Florida organization relies heavily on his aggressive play and penalty-killing ability.

Petr Taticek – Florida’s first round pick in 2002 is a playmaker, not a goal scorer. He has 16 points this season including 12 assists on a team that does not score many goals. He sees the play very well. At 6’2 183 pounds, Taticek is not a physical player and has only taken 17 penalty minutes this season. Good at faceoffs, he will need to get stronger to be able to compete in the NHL but he is looking good at the age of 21 for San Antonio.

Josh Olson – The 6’5 235-pounder’s production is down form last season with 14 points (8 goals, 6 assists) through 51 games compared to 38 points last season (22 goals, 16 assists). This can be attributed to the fact that San Antonio is a trapping team that relies more on defense than offense. Olson is a fast skater and can control the puck well. However, a player his size will need to be more physical. Olson has taken only 17 penalty minutes this season. Olson played five games for the Panthers last season, scoring one goal. The 23-year-old Grand Forks, North Dakota native will have to play more physically if he is going to sustain a career in the NHL.

Greg Jacina – Playing most of last season with Augusta of the ECHL, the Guelph, Ontario native is having a solid rookie season for the Rampage. He has recorded 23 points this season (11 goals, 12 assists) through 56 games. Jacina is valuable on the power play, with four tallies this season. He is not afraid to get involved, and is second on the team with 99 penalty minutes. Jacina has a hard shot, but will need to improve his skating.

Kamil Kreps – The 20-year-old rookie struggled a bit with San Antonio with only seven points (4 goals, 3 assists) in 41 games for the Rampage. Kreps was reassigned to Texas of the ECHL, where he has played nine games and recorded 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists). A second round pick in 2003, Kreps is a fast, strong skater, and has good vision on the ice. His stint with Texas should restore his confidence.

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