Top 20 Panther prospects

By Mark Fischel

Hockey’s Future is proud to announce the all new and improved updated Panthers Team Page. After countless debates, several fist-fights, the top 20 Panther prospects for the upcoming 2001-2002 season is listed below for your enjoyment.

Florida Panthers Top 20 Prospects

1.Kristian Huselius, Left Wing
Possibly the best prospect in Europe and the best player in the Swedish Elite League, the emergence of Huselius and his dominant play made it very easy to envision him on the second line of the Panthers. He has come to contract terms and will be counted on to make the adjustment to the NHL as soon as possible and provide a 2nd line scoring option.

2. Denis Shvidki, Right Wing
Quickly adjusted to the AHL and the physical play, Denis broke two AHL All-Star records and scored 24 points in 32 games in Louisville. At a late season call-up, Denis scored 7 points in his last 14 games and improved his play in all 3 zones. He is ready to play in the NHL and may not be hindered by getting reduced ice-time on the 3rd line for the next few years.

3. Stephen Weiss, Center
The 4th overall pick in this years draft is being considered for the #2 center position with the Panthers this year. Stephen’s competition will be Olli Jokinen, Kevyn Adams, and the challenge of putting on some muscle. It should prove an interesting training camp to see who comes out on top of this battle. Stephen’s on-ice vision, playmaking ability, and solid two-way play will prevent him from being in juniors or the minors for too long.

4. Lance Ward, Defense
Along with Marcus Nilson, Lance was one of the bright spots for the Panthers last season. Playing on the top line with Robert Svehla and not looking out of place, it is feasible that Ward could find his home there with his steady defensive play. A back injury interrupted his season, but off-season rehab will make him looking to solidify a roster spot this year on a lackluster defense.

5. Niklas Hagman, Left Wing
This emerging power-forward will be given the chance to earn a spot this year on a checking line, but the competition will be stiff with the likes of Ryan Johnson, Jason Weimer, Peter Worrell, and Joey Tetarenko ahead of him. If Niklas does not make the team this year, he will go back to Finland to play. He will be a Panther regular more sooner than later

6. Ivan Novoseltsev, Right Wing
Ivan is slowly becoming one of the most enigmatic of Panther prospects. After becoming a scoring machine in Juniors, Ivan has not been able to consistently bring that scoring into the professional ranks due to injuries and a questionable attitude. Regardless though, Ivan still has amazing raw skills and talent, but just needs to focus and learn more about the professional game.

7. Joey Tetarenko, Right Wing
The gritty converted defenseman with surprisingly soft hands made a good impression with the Panthers last year, where his solid play and his pugilistic skills garnered him some extra room to operate on the ice. His versatility, leadership and toughness will make him a commodity in the near future for a team that needed all of those attributes.

8. Brad Ference, Defense
A bright spot two years ago, Brad has run into a nasty string of bad luck several times that has hindered his full time arrival to the NHL. The Panthers envision him as a future two-way defenseman and Brad is working on adding some muscle weight which will make him even more scary to play against.

9. Ivan Majesky, Defense
Hoping this European veteran can come to the NHL and make the same impact as Jaro Spacek did a few years ago, the Panthers recently signed him to a contract and will give him a shot in training camp to earn a roster spot. Possessing solid offensive skills and a good size, Ivan is a wild-card this year (as any 9th round pick should be) and does have the chance to make the team this year.

10. Lukas Krajicek, Defense
This highly mobile offensive-minded d-man was still on the board when the Panthers were able to swing a deal to land him at the 24th spot. Envisioning him in the purely offensive role and as a PP QB, Lukas has the talent to develop into a top-unit player who will need to work on his defensive game and physical play. Will probably need to adjust to the professional game by spending some time in the minors.

11. Kyle Rossiter, Defense
Continued steady play and maturity in the AHL makes Kyle one of the defenseman that the Panthers are counting on to keep developing and make the team in a few years. Nothing flashy to his game, Kyle makes an honest effort with his game-play and can be counted on to stay consistent.

12. Serge Payer, Center
For a player who was slated to start in the UHL last year, all Serge did was score 5 goals in the NHL with his anticipation of the play and gritty “won’t quit” attitude. Only thing holding him back right now is the overload of centers on the Panthers, so Serge will fine-tune his game in the AHL next year, which is much better than being sent to the UHL.

13. Tomas Malec, Defense
An offensive defenseman with a good package of skills, Malec was passed up in the 2000 draft, but the Panthers were more than happy to find him available in 2001. Strong passing and a good attitude will make Malec a player to watch for in the next few years, but playing in the “Q” will mean he will need some adjustment time in the minors to adjust to a physical game.

14. Vladimir Sapozhnikov, Defense
Vlad had a tough year in North Bay adjusting to the lifestyle change, but one thing that was adjusted was the loss of baby-fat which exposed a young kid with a lot of solid muscle on his frame. A solid defensive defenseman, Vlad will need to keep adjusting to the OHL and improving his communication skills, but his eye for defense will make him one of the young players to keep an eye on.

15. David Morisset, Right Wing
One of the players brought in to lead to a return of team speed, Morisset is anticipated to develop into a speedy forechecker who can chip in points from capitalizing on turnovers. The biggest thing that makes David an attractive player is his top-notch skating skills and speed and he will need to develop his finishing skills to truly earn a chance to make an NHL roster.

16. Davis Parley, Goalie
Emerging this season as one of the top goalies in the WHL, Davis was tied or was better in Save Percentage than the top goalies in this year’s draft. A good work ethic and continued improvement from this prospect will earn him a shot in the NHL in a few years. Next step will be to continue his strong play in the AHL to learn the pro game.

17. Greg Watson, Center
Gritty character player from a bad Raiders team, Greg Watson is the epitome of hustle and desire. Possessing strong face-skills and a desire to win, Watson will be noticed on the ice whatever level he plays, and his determination will fit in nicely on a future NHL squad.

18.Ryan Jardine, Left Wing
A good scoring winger in the juniors, Ryan played his first professional season in the AHL and had moderate success. A winger with all around average skills, Jardine simply knows how to put goals and points on the board and will continue to develop in the AHL for a few years.

19. Sean O’Connor, Right Wing
A tough bruising winger with a penchant for pugilism, Sean improved on his rookie season with Moose Jaw by increasing his goal totals by 29 and his points by 36. Crashing the net with authority and not backing down from any challenger makes Sean an intriguing player to keep an eye on.

20. Grant McNeill, Defense
A player this tough and with decent defensive skills makes him an attractive package for the Panthers in a few years. His desire and fighting skills make his teammates much bigger and if that can translate to higher levels of hockey, that is a bonus.

Criteria used to determine if a prospect is eligible is less than 41 NHL games or less than 65 NHL games over two seasons. Also make sure to check out the new Depth Charts, Strengths and Weaknesses and updated profiles on Billy Thompson, Michael Woodford, Dustin Johner, and Kyle Bruce, as well as updated stats for all top 20 players.