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Finding The Future Stars

Sunday, 06.15.2008 / 3:00 PM ET / 2008 NHL Draft
Florida Panthers
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Finding The Future Stars
The Panthers drafted Michal Repik with the 40th pick in last year's draft. Repik's now considered one of the top prospects in the system.
By Dave Joseph for

For more than a year, Scott Luce has been driving the back roads and sitting in old, cold rinks throughout the world watching the future of hockey.

From British Columbia to Nova Scotia, from Moscow to Kariskoga, Luce has spent countless minutes, hours, days and months evaluating the draft class of 2008. And after watching, researching and interviewing the top junior players, Luce is excited about landing a “significant prospect” come next weekend at the NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa.

“This is an above average draft,” said Luce, the Panthers’ director of amateur scouting. “There’s a solid 40 to 45 guys who should have significant NHL careers based on how they’re projected.”

This is good news for the Panthers, who traded their first-round selection last June when acquiring All-Star goalie Tomas Vokoun and will select 31st at this year’s draft.

“We’re going to be happy with whoever falls into our laps at 31,” said Luce, who has been instrumental in Panther selections Nathan Horton, Rostislav Olesz, Michael Frolik, Keaton Ellerby and Michal Repik. “We’re confident we’re going to get a significant prospect at the ’08 Draft.”

The odds-on choice to be selected first overall by the Lightning is Steven Stamkos, a 5-11 center who has scored 100 goals (197 points) the past two years in 124 games while playing in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). The fun begins after Tampa selects and Los Angeles is on the clock.

“I don’t think there’s any question who the No. 1 pick will be,” Luce said. “But number two is going to be wide open. Los Angeles has a difficult decision to make.”

The Kings could take one of four defensemen, all ranked as NHL prospects. The four are:

Drew Doughty, a 6-0, 219-pounder who could be the most NHL-ready defenseman and a player Central Scouting believes a team can build around the next 10 years.

Zach Bogosian, the only OHL defenseman who led his team in scoring (61 points) last season. A solid, all-around player, some believe he could have been the first overall pick if not for Stamkos.

Luke Schenn, who, at 6-2, has been compared to Ed Jovanovski with a tough edge who’s quietly effective every night, according to Luce.

Alex Pietrangelo, a 6-3, 206 pounder who had 45 assists last year in Niagara and, Luce says, is the “complete package of size and skill.”

This isn’t to say the Entry Draft doesn’t hold promise when it comes to forwards. Center Colin Wilson of Boston College is regarded as a solid pick as is left winger Mikkel Boedker of Denmark and 6-3, 203-pound Kyle Beach of the Western Hockey League.

The wild card in the draft could be left winger Nikita Filatov of Moscow’s Central Army team. Described by Central Scouting as having “tons of talent,” Filatov might tumble in the draft despite being considered one of the world’s top prospects because there is no transfer agreement between the NHL and the Russian Ice Hockey Federation.

“It’s a bit of a gamble whether they come over to play or not,” admitted Luce, who, nonetheless, drafted two prospects last year from Russia in Evgeni Dadonov and Sergei Gayduchenko. “Dadonov might be considered high risk (in the third round), but we felt he was too strong an asset. We felt he would have been a first or early second round pick if there was an agreement in place. You have to have confidence, based on your due diligence and working with his agent, that, in time, the player has a strong interest in coming to play in North America.”

Luce, who has seen the top 50-75 prospects no fewer than eight times, says teams will ultimately approach the draft based on their needs.

“Sometimes decisions are made for the short term and other decisions are based on the long term,” he said. “That’s why a guy who you have at 31 another team may have at 50. Everyone places a different value on each player. Everyone likes to draft the best player possible. But you may value a puck moving defenseman over a scoring winger. Another team might value the scoring winger. It’s all going to depend on where your priority is.”




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18 is the official Web site of the Florida Panthers. Florida Panthers and are trademarks of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks and NHL Draft name and logo are trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2016 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.