Thomas Schemitsch, D, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
3rd round, 88th overall
Height: 6’3” Weight: 205 lbs
The Florida Panthers went into the draft with a few needs, and with a top-line winger crossed off the list, the team aimed to shore up another weak area—a puck-moving offensive defenseman. The Panthers opted to take one of the most improved players in the draft in Thomas Schemitsch, who developed his offensive prowess as a forward just four years ago.
Schemitsch played as a center in his first bantam year, and decided to make the move to defense to learn the position in order to make himself more attractive to OHL teams.
“I think it really worked out for me, and something that took a lot of thought, especially after playing forward for so long,” Schemitsch said. “I think in the long run it was the right decision.”
The night leading up to the NHL Entry Draft was filled with nervous anticipation for Schemitsch, who relied upon advice from his brother Geoffrey, a veteran of over 200 games in the OHL.
“I was pretty nervous,” the Thornhill, ON native said of the process. “Just thinking about it a lot at night and eventually fell asleep. My brother has always been there for me, gave me tips on how to handle things and gave me advice to just enjoy it.”
The Panthers will certainly enjoy having him on board, as he put together a 14 goal and 35 assist season, an improvement of 32 points from his rookie season. Those totals were good for ninth overall in OHL scoring by defensemen, meaning the Panthers are getting a player who is just beginning to realize his potential.
As a player that compares himself to Brent Seabrook, the Panthers will be pleased if Schemitsch turns out to be anything like the player he models his game after.
Like Crouse, Schemitsch was invited to the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine. He spoke with HF after completing his testing session, with his comments being included in this HF video.
Denis Malgin, C, Zurich (NLA)
4th round, 102nd overall
Height: 5’8” Weight: 163 lbs
The role undersized forwards play in the NHL is starting to take on more value, as creativity and elusiveness gradually take precedence. Malgin is the latest and perhaps first Panther to truly fit the mold, he uses quality puck control skills to get around and rarely gets himself into trouble, playing a very passive and under-control style.
With his low center of gravity, he is hard to knock off the puck and put those skills to use in the top level of hockey in Switzerland, where he spent the majority of the season playing against professionals. It’s not totally set in stone that the Panthers got a steal in the fourth round, but if Malgin continues to develop and shows an interest in playing North American hockey, that would go a long way to getting this Swiss native to the NHL sooner rather than later.
Karch Bachman, LW, Culver Academy (USHS)
5th round, 132nd overall
Height: 5’10” Weight: 175 lbs
The Panthers swapped the 147th overall pick to the New York Islanders in exchange for the team’s 2016 5th rounder, so that New York could trade up to get Ryan Pilon. Before that happened, the team used their first fifth rounder on Karch Bachman, a player who got rave reviews down the stretch for his blinding speed.
Bachman finished with 19 goals and 24 assists in 32 games for Culver Academy, and his goal scoring numbers took a drastic drop in his junior year, declining by 17. The lack of goals is alarming, but his overall game improved with a new-found focus on sharpening his skills away from the puck and on special teams. Bachman still has one more year of high school remaining before he joins Miami University in 2016-17.
Bachman met with the media at the NHL Draft following his selection by Florida, with some of his comments being captured in this HF video.
Christopher Wilkie, RW, Tri-City Storm (USHL)
6th round, 162nd overall
Height: 5’11” Weight: 199 lbs
Dale Tallon tapped to interesting bloodlines as Wilkie’s father, David, was a first round pick of the Montreal Canadiens who played 167 NHL games. Tallon has twice drafted players committed to the University of North Dakota, Rocco Grimaldi and Corban Knight, and now that club has a third member with Wilkie. He was a former member of the United States Development Program through his U17 season, but spent the past two years with the Tri-City Storm in the USHL.
Wilkie is a speedy, energetic winger with the ability to play at a high pace. He improved his scoring prowess this year exponentially, finishing with a league-high 35 goals in 59 games. Wilkie plays with passion and often gets into scrums, showing that he possesses the versatility to eventually assume a different role as he gets older.
Patrick Shea, C, Kimball Union (USHS)
7th round, 192nd overall
Height: 5’10” Weight: 186 lbs
The Panthers used the first of two seventh round picks on Patrick Shea, who profiles as a long-term project. Shea tallied 19 goals and 20 assists for Kimball Union, a prep school in New Hampshire. Shea is a crafty forward that put together hot streaks this season in a competitive high school league.
Patrick, the son of current Colorado Avalanche scout Neil Shea, has been attributed with elevating those around him and embracing a leadership role, all positive development signs. He will head to the University of Maine next season.
Ryan Bednard, G, Johnstown Tomahawks (NAHL)
7th round, 206th overall
Height: 6’3” Weight: 179lbs
Ryan Bednard is a long way from the NHL, but he has all the tools to get there. With his size, genuine athletic ability, and development pedigree there is a lot for the Panthers to work with but they will need to be patient. Bednard has played with famed United States development programs Belle Tire and Victory Honda, and has carried a certain mystique with him at each step along the way.
Last year with Johnstown, Bednard went 16-16-2 with a 2.66 goals-agaisnt average and a .913 save percentage, solid numbers on a team that struggled at times. He is a big, blocking-style netminder that made a few appearances on the NAHL’s Plays of the Week thanks to a pair of timely saves that tested his ability. He appears to be headed to the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL next year before joining Bowling Green State University for the 2016-17 season.