Photo: University of Minnesota center Nick Bjugstad is one of several Panthers prospects who had a breakout season in 2011-12. (Brace Hemmelgarn/Icon SMI)
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.
Photo: San Jose Sharks defenseman and University of Massachusetts alum Justin Braun is the first of a recent group of that school's alums to make it to the NHL (courtesy of Don Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
Casey Wellman has been with three organizations since turning pro during the 2009-10 season, but this season could mark his best chance to become an NHL regular.
Photo: The Panthers took a minor risk when they selected defenseman Michael Matheson 23rd overall in the 2012 NHL Draft. Matheson is committed to Boston College for the 2012-13 season. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
After two consecutive years with a combined 23 selections, the Florida Panthers took a deep breath, sat back in their chairs, and relaxed a bit at the 2012 NHL Draft. With the top-rated group of prospects in the league, the Panthers looked to add the best value pieces with their five picks, and opted to exercise their option to relinquish their 2012 second-round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers instead of next year's second-rounder (a legacy from the Kris Versteeg trade in 2011). The Panthers managed to select some intriguing players, including first-rounder Michael Matheson, and added a lot of blistering speed to their already overflowing pool of talented prospects.
Photo: Taken third overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, Jonathan Huberdeau might be the last high draft pick the Florida Panthers have in a while. (Cliff Welch/Icon SMI)
After completely rebuilding the NHL club through a series of trades and a variety of free agent signings that complemented their existing core (Stephen Weiss, Jason Garrison and Dmitry Kulikov, etc.), the Florida Panthers
made the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. The future is bright too, as many of their top prospects are starting to come of age.
Photo: Forward John Huberdeau is the top prospect for the Florida Panthers and one of the top forwards not currently playing hockey at the professional level. (Cliff Welch/Icon SMI)
Below is the final part of Hockey's Future's 2012 Spring Organizational Rankings. The rankings were determined by taking each NHL team's entire prospect pool into consideration as well as the likelihood those prospects are to meet their maximum potential. For reference, each team's top five prospects are included, as well as the players they have graduated, traded, or added to their pool over the 2011-12 season. To be eligible, a player must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice each season, in the fall and spring.