With arguably the best group of prospects in the NHL, the Florida Panthers and their fans have a lot to be excited about coming into the 2012-13 season, at all levels of play. In fact, the argument could be made that the Panthers have players who are among the very best of prospects in the CHL, NCAA, and AHL. That means, despite the lockout that currently has hockey fans looking beyond the NHL to fill their passion for the sport, there are plenty of intriguing Panthers' prospect stories playing out all over North America and beyond.
Over the last three drafts, the Florida Panthers managed to stockpile an incredible array of young prospects. Some top-flight prospects such as former third-overall draft pick Jonathan Huberdeau, Quinton Howden, and Alex Petrovic will make their official professional debuts this fall. Other top prospects like Nick Bjugstad, Kyle Rau, and Corban Knight will return to their college programs, ready to resume their quests for a national title.
With one of the deepest and most talented prospect pools in the league, it should come as no surprise that the Florida Panthers have prospects in the post-season at almost every level imaginable, from the WHL to the AHL to the European leagues.
Cliff Welch/Icon SMI)
For every top-tier goaltender, 40-goal sniper, power play quarterback and hyped up-and-comer, there are several other role players on NHL rosters who take on less glamorous roles to help their teams win. They go by many names — grinders, character players, shutdown defenders, backups — but every great team has as many accomplished role players as they do stars.
Here’s a look at an unsung hero from each of the Southeast Division’s teams.
Nick Turchiaro/Icon SMI)
With the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes — the two teams from the Southeast that have won a Stanley Cup in the past decade — realistically out of the picture, the three remaining teams in the division are waiting to see which players will step up and lead the way to a top-three seed and perhaps even more.