Photo: Forward Nick Bjugstad's decision to return to Minnesota for another season has paid off, as the Golden Gophers have been among the top teams in the nation. (courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Since the beginning of the truncated NHL season in January, several of the Florida Panthers prospects have had a chance to play in the NHL, and their experiences with the big club have helped to shuffle the order of the organization's top 20 prospects.
Photo: Boston College defenseman and Florida Panthers prospect Mike Matheson is the top scoring defenseman on the BC roster (courtesy of Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)
When you’re a first round draft pick, expectations can be exceedingly high. The challenge of meeting such expectations can be even more daunting when you’re adjusting not only to a higher level of play, but also to a new culture that has established itself as a winner. Such has been the case for Boston College freshman defenseman, Michael Matheson.
Photo: Goaltender Jacob Markstrom is one of the top goaltending prospects currently playing North American hockey. Markstrom was selected by the Florida Panthers 31st overall in the 2008 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Al Bello/Getty Images)
The Florida Panthers went into the 2008 NHL draft without a first-round pick, having traded away the rights to that pick in a package that brought Tomas Vokoun to Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers (under then general manager Jacques Martin) made a sequence of trades that gave them the 31st, 46th, and 80th overall picks, as well as their own fourth (100th overall) and seventh round picks (190th).
Photo: University of Minnesota-Duluth forward and Florida Panthers prospect Joe Basaraba has become more of a go-to player for the Bulldogs in his junior season (courtesy of Paul Hebert/Icon SMI)
Fort Frances, ON native Joe Basaraba did not really understand what was going on during his freshman year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth when the Bulldogs defeated Michigan 3-2 to win the NCAA National Championship.
Photo: Forward Drew Shore is one of several Florida Panthers prospects playing in their first season of professional hockey. (Courtesy of Juan Salas/Icon SMI)
The Florida Panthers prospect pool has seen significant turnover at the minor league level over the last six months. Some players have graduated to the NHL while others have been traded. Several new faces have joined the professional ranks for the first time. After all of the movement is accounted for, what remains is perhaps the strongest minor league group of prospects the Panthers have had in a long time, if ever.