The Florida Panthers minor league system is teeming with NHL-prospects who are waiting for opportunities on the Florida roster. Florida General Manager Dale Tallon hinted in the past few weeks that he may be looking to trade some of the more veteran forwards on the squad in order to facilitate some of that upward movement. Until then, the AHL affiliate San Antonio Rampage are reaping the rewards of having top-notch talent playing throughout their lineup.
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.
After a year in which several prospects left the Panthers system, the summer brought new faces to Florida. Among them is the first overall pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, Aaron Ekblad, a towering, talented defenseman who could be just one of several prospects earning full-time NHL roster spots this fall.
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.
Continuing full throttle on the rebuild of the Florida Panthers, GM Dale Tallon and crew went into the draft with ten picks and a plan to add scoring power. Trade temptations were not enough to keep Tallon from sticking to the plan and using the third pick on what some consider to be perhaps the best goal scorer in the 2011 prospect pool. With the remaining selections, the Panthers opted for six forwards and three defensemen. Tallon dipped into the QMJHL for three of those picks, matching his total from his previous six drafts combined.