The summer started early for many of Florida's top prospects, after both the Panthers and their AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, failed to make the playoffs. Several of the team's brightest young stars, Jonathan Huberdeau, Drew Shore, Jacob Markstrom, and Alex Petrovic among them, missed out on postseason action. However, the Panthers were still represented in playoff action at many levels of play.
The Panthers have only one prospect playing in the OHL, but he made quite an impression this season. Vince Trocheck was named the league's most valuable player, and he saved his best play for the post-season. Trocheck ended the playoffs seventh overall in league scoring, despite playing in just 15 games. He led his team in goals with 10 markers, and was second in assists with 14. He scored multiple points in six playoff games, and was named to the three stars on four occasions.
Three players from the Panthers system saw playoff action in the QMJHL. One of last season's top playoff performers once again saw postseason success with the Quebec Remparts. Logan Shaw, who last year scored 11 points in 11 games, did not have the same level of production this season, but he was still effective. In two rounds of play, Shaw scored eight points on three goals and five assists. The biggest difference between this year and last for the tall right winger was powerplay production. The Remparts struggled on the powerplay in their playoff run, and Shaw's production suffered with them. The Panthers like what they have seen from Shaw, however, and signed him to an entry level contract in late April.
Elsewhere in the QMJHL, Francis Beauvillier scored a goal and added two assists in six games for Rimouski, but was a team-worst minus-eight in six first-round games for the Oceanic.
Jonathan Racine was scoreless in five games for Moncton, who took a quick exit from the playoffs.
In the Western Hockey League, Steven Hodges and Alexander Delnov both suffered first-round knockouts with their respective teams. Delnov scored four points in seven games for Seattle, while Hodges managed a point per game for Victoria. Hodges' two goals and four assists might have been second-best on the Royals scoring table, but his efforts were not enough to help Victoria past the Kamloops Blazers.
While the Rampage missed the AHL playoffs, the Panthers ECHL affiliate Cincinnati Cyclones made a long run to the ECHL Eastern Conference Finals where they lost in five games to Reading. Rookie goaltender Michael Houser was instrumental in the team's postseason success. He was steadfast in the net through the first two rounds, and stopped all but 27 of the 366 shots that came his way. He faltered down the stretch, however. He saw 141 shots in five games against Reading, and allowed 16 goals over that span.
Of the Cincinnati skaters, it was David Pacan who was most effective. Pacan played with exuberance and determination, and was a key player for the Cyclones throughout the playoffs. He finished with a team-best nine goals, was second overall with sixteen points, and led the team with a plus-nine rating in his 17 games. He also collected 45 penalty minutes. Fellow rookie John McFarland scored three of his nine postseason points in the conference finals, and Garrett Wilson provided leadership and gritty, two-way play throughout the playoffs.
European players Yaroslav Kosov (Metallurg Magnitogorsk) and goaltender Sergei Gayduchenko (Sibir Novosibirsk) both saw limited time in the playoffs. Kosov was held scoreless in five games. Gayduchenko made one appearance and played just 20 minutes in net, allowing two goals on nine shots.
Minnesota forward Kyle Rau might be a high-level player in the regular season, but he is able to take his game to a whole new level in the postseason. His playoff and championship heroics are well-documented, and he added to that story this season, as well. In four postseason games, he recorded four points, including a game-winning goal, while teammate and current NHL player Nick Bjugstad once again muddled through the postseason.
Like Minnesota, North Dakota experienced an uneventful postseason, but Rocco Grimaldi and Corban Knight were both effective. Grimaldi led North Dakota with five even-strength assists in six games, while Knight added two goals and two assists.
Notes and Signings
The Panthers failed to sign European 2011 draft picks Iiro Pakarinen and Rasmus Bengtsson prior to the June 1st deadline. Bengtsson will be available for the 2013 draft, while Pakarinen will become an unrestricted free agent.
The end of the postseason also means the end of amateur hockey for several Panthers prospects. Vince Trocheck will turn 20 years of age in July and will become eligible to play in the AHL, as will Jonathan Racine who turned twenty in late May.
Wade Megan completed his college career, and signed an amateur try-out contract with San Antonio. At this time, it is uncertain whether his lone goal in 13 AHL games will be enough to earn him an entry-level contract this summer.