After a disasterous season, the Florida Panthers find themselves in a very
enviable position: 4 picks in the Top 50, and the draft in their home court.
With the 2001 NHL Entry Draft considered to be the strongest in some time,
the Florida Panthers have the chance to stock their bare cupboards with some
blue-chip talent, and possibly bring in some older talent to help them compete
in the near future. As with any bottom-feeder squad, there are many gaping holes
to be filled. First, a look at the essentials.
The Panthers have had a love affair with the CHL, especially the OHL and WHL.
Of the 6 First Round picks the Panthers have had, 4 of them have been from the CHL.
26 of the past 36 Panthers picks have been from the CHL, with many of them being ‘safe’
‘character’ players that have amounted to absolutely nothing.
The Panthers have been deathly afraid of college players (DiPenta is the only
college pick of note), and have not ventured often into Europe, including just three picks
from the Czech Republic and ZERO picks from Slovakia.
This one-dimensional approach to drafting has led to predictable results, and it shows
in the standings, and on the farm. When the Panthers have ventured into uncharted waters
(Europe), they have had good success. Radek Dvorak, Filip Kuba, Oleg Kvasha, Kristian Huselius,
Jaro Spacek, Niklas Hagman, Marcus Nilson and Vladimir Saphozhnikov have all been very good
picks, and since the Panthers have only picked twelve European players since 1995, they have had
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As the old and often used adage goes, “Pick the best player available. If you have an extra asset in one area, deal it for help in another area.” The Florida Panthers did just that during the 2000 Entry Draft in Calgary, as they picked up perhaps the best prospect in all of hockey: Roberto Luongo.
Before the Entry Draft got under way on Saturday afternoon, Panthers GM Bryan Murray and Islanders GM Mike Milbury pulled one of the most surprising trades of the day, as the Panthers sent RW Mark Parrish and LW/C Oleg Kvasha to the Isles for franchise-goalie-in-the-making Robert Luongo and disgruntled center Olli Jokinen. With this trade, the Panthers nabbed themselves the #3 and #4 picks from the 1997 draft, while dealing away 2 of the many scoring wingers within the Panthers organization. With Kristian Huselius, Denis Shvidki, Ivan Novoseltsev, and fiesty Marcus Nilson all knocking on the door, the Panthers could afford to trade Kvasha and Parrish, in the expectation that one or more of these prospects will make an impact next season.
It had been well known to Panthers fans that Mike Milbury had craved Oleg Kvasha for some time. In fact, Kvasha had been involved in trade talks that almost brought Mariusz Czerkawski and Kenny Jonsson to the Panthers, before previous Islanders ownership nixed the deal late last season. Milbury finally got the player he coveted, as well as Mark Parrish, a productive scoring winger.
The 99-00 season didn’t offer a lot of roster spots to Panthers prospects and rookies because during the 1998-99 season the Panthers had 4 rookies play
complete seasons (Parrish, Worrell, Spacek, and Kvasha), and they all earned full-time roster spots that year. In addition, this
year saw the surprising resurrection of Cam Stewart, and the signing of veteran Ray Sheppard for a bargain basement price.
Add all of these factors together, combined with the AHL Louisville Panthers needing a full roster of prospects, and it didn’t give much chance for a
young player to earn a spot on the big club and make a noticeable contribution, ala Scott Gomez, Maxim Afigenenov, Brad
Stuart, or Michael York.
Hockeysfuture.com is proud to introduce our newest Editor for the Panthers page, Mark Fischel. He will be a great asset to hockeysfuture.com with his knowledge of the game and scouting reports of all Panthers prospects.
With the new addition to our writing staff comes all new rankings. Some Panthers prospects had a great season and boosted their stock, while some other prospects had horrible seasons, and look like they may never make the big time now. Dwayne Hay, Filip Kuba, and Dwayne Hay were all dealt at the NHL trade deadline, while Kristian Huselius and Dwayne Duerden have had the breakout years expected of them.
When asked who has had the most influence in his career so far, Curtis replied, “I think that the biggest help that I have gotten is from my Junior Coach. I wasn’t expected to play my first year in juniors and everybody was asking him why he kept me here. He gave me a chance to play and he said just wait, he’ll prosper and be effective. He kept playing me and giving me that opportunity. He always helped by giving me extra things after practice. His name is Kevin Dickie and he is now coaching out in the Maritimes at Arcadia University. He’s probably been the biggest reason for my career going as far as it has actually. Coach Dickie helped me along the way to be a better person on and off the ice.”
Coach Dickie’s impression of Curtis: “I’ve coached some great kids over the last 13 years, but none greater than Curtis in terms of a pleasure to be around and an athlete. If there is one guy who’s got to where he is, both because he deserves it, and because he has scraped and clawed and worked so hard to be the player that he is, it is Curtis. He exemplifies a lot of the positive characteristics that you look for in a player. He’s a great kid and I’m real happy for him.”