Under general manager Dale Tallon, the Florida Panthers have been among the foremost practitioners of drafting college-bound players and thereby gaining an extra two years of development before having to make decisions on their futures. As such, the number of Florida’s prospects playing junior hockey is relatively limited. In fact, the team currently has only four players in the Canadian major junior leagues, and two more playing in the USHL before they too go off to college.
The Florida Panthers organization looks much different now than it did even two years ago. General Manager Dale Tallon’s rebuilding of the prospect system and the relative patience that his staff has shown in allowing those prospects to mature has started to bear fruit. Several players have moved through the pipeline to become NHL regulars or AHL players on the verge of graduating to the big leagues.
On September 10th, when the Val-d’Or Foreurs begin their President’s Cup defense and the QMJHL‘s season begins, they will be a very different squad from the team that represented the league last spring at the Memorial Cup. Gone will be CHL Player of the Year Anthony Mantha and starting netminder Antoine Bibeau, with both making the jump to pro hockey. Forward Louick Marcotte and defenceman Ryan Graves have been traded away and team captain Samuel Henley and defensemen Guillaume Gelinas and Randy Gazzola have also moved on. Read more»
Opportunities for prospects in the Florida Panthers system were omnipresent during the 2013-14 season. Whether those opportunities came in the form of the NCAA tournament, professional hockey debuts, or calls to the NHL, several hungry young prospects distinguished themselves by their play, effort and skills.
There have been several notable changes since the fall when the Florida Panthers last Top 20 list was compiled. Nick Bjugstad and Drew Shore have graduated, and Florida added high-potential center prospect Brandon Pirri at the trade deadline. Several players have begun getting extended opportunities in the NHL as the regular season winds down and the Panthers playoff hopes slip quietly to the side.