Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon has a penchant for college hockey prospects, especially with the flexibility that the current NCAA eligibility rules allow. In fact, the Panthers currently have nearly double the amount of college players in their system than they have in major junior hockey, an anomaly in a league that relies heavily on the CHL for player development.
The Florida Panthers currently have four players on their NHL roster who can still be considered prospects. Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Dylan Olsen, and Jimmy Hayes are all seeing regular shifts for Florida, and all have been effective at that level. There are also a handful of prospects at the AHL level who are either NHL-ready or not far off.
The Florida Panthers' system remains well stocked even after the graduation of Jonathan Huberdeau and Jacob Markstrom. The organization has incredible depth and skill at center and defense, and although the goaltending depth chart looks relatively weak, it remains a solid group with a couple of players performing well in the early part of the current season.
The Dale Tallon rebuild of the Florida Panthers is entering its fourth season, and the results of the process – stockpiling young, smart, two-way players with talent and size – is readily coming to fruition. Several prospects are coming into their own, whether as young NHL players, first and second-year professionals in the minor leagues, or leaders in the NCAA and major junior ranks.
Although a couple of the Florida Panthers prospects have moved on from the collegiate ranks and begun their professional careers, the organization still has several valuable players in the NCAA and in Europe, including a Hobey Baker finalist. At least two and perhaps as many as four or more players may have already played their final seasons in college. The prospects currently playing in Europe may be a thinner crop, but there are a couple of them who look ready to move to North America.