Photo: Notre Dame defenseman and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns will cap off his college career with his most productive offensive season for the Fighting Irish (courtesy of Zumapress/Icon SMI)
This season, the NCAA features an array of outstanding NHL-drafted defensemen and many of them, particularly underclassmen, have been left off this year’s list. The ten defensemen ranked here are all having excellent seasons with their respective teams and have made tremendous strides in their development.
Photo: Selected 14th overall in the 2009 NHL Draft, Dmitri Kulikov has developed into a steady, two-way defenseman for the Florida Panthers. (courtesy of Rich Graessle/Icon SMI)
The Florida Panthers entered the 2009 NHL Draft with a new general manager in Randy Sexton, a cornerstone defenseman about to leave the team via free agency in Jay Bouwmeester, and a desperate need for an infusion of offensive skill.
Photo: Forward Vince Trocheck is having a strong rookie pro season. Through 32 AHL games, the 20-year-old has 11 goals and 12 assists. (courtesy of Ray Carlin/Icon SMI)
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.
Photos: After putting up 120 points in his draft year, Nicolas Petan is on pace to surpass that mark in 2013-14 while averaging over two points per game for the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
Welcome to the December 2013 edition of On the Rush, a monthly column featuring prospects at various levels of competition who are either exceeding expectations or are falling a little behind.
Photo: Forward Christopher Clappterton has been very good this season for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, managing 12 goals and 21 assists through 22 games. Clapperton was selected in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
The Florida Panthers system has just six prospects playing in junior leagues, though four did recently represent the team at the 2013 Subway Super Series. The group runs the gamut from big stay-at-home defensemen to feisty two-way scrappers, to small goal scorers. The eclectic bunch may not have any budding superstars among them, but they do have the Dale Tallon trademark traits of solid work ethic and hockey smarts.