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Cats Draft Adds Five To The System

Saturday, 06.21.2008 / 3:24 PM ET / 2008 NHL Draft
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Cats Draft Adds Five To The System
Jacob Markstrom (Getty Images)
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
OTTAWA – In the days leading up to the Entry Draft, Scott Luce had a list of five players he was hoping would be available when the Panthers started selecting in the second round.
Two of the players on Luce’s short list wound up as Florida Panthers this weekend.
Despite not having a first-round pick, Luce and the Panthers walked away from this NHL Entry Draft feeling good about themselves after acquiring some top-end draft picks and acquiring defensemen Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton from the Coyotes.
The Panthers started their day picking the No. 1-ranked European goaltender in Jacob Markstrom at 31 and then the No. 13th-ranked skater in North America in Colby Robak with the 46th pick.
“Getting Jacob and Roback was a heck of a way for us to start day two of this draft,” said Luce moments after the draft.
GM Jacques Martin said Markstrom “is a prospect, down the road, who has the potential to be a No. 1 goalie.”
Luce said with each pick Friday evening during the first round “we were all doing our lucky finger crossing” in hopes that Markstrom would slip to Saturday’s second round.
“Before we left the draft floor (Friday night), the trade offers were coming in,” Luce said. “We met last night after we got back to our hotel and discussed as a staff and said we’d make Jacob our pick.”
Markstrom, the No. 1 ranked European goalie by Central Scouting, led Sweden to its first-ever gold medal at the 2007 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial. He stopped 36 of 40 shots against Team Canada and stoned Steven Stamkos in overtime. He posted a 2.57 goals against and a .924 save percentage for Sweden’s national Under-17 team.
“We got a guy we love,” Luce said. “He’s a big, ,athletic goaltender who’s a real competitor. He was a leader on the national team, that speaks volumes for his character.”
A native of Gavle, Sweden, Markstrom’s father and brother were soccer goalies and his mother was a handball goalie. Luce said the Panthers listened to several “significant offers” overnight, “but we decided we wanted to keep the pick.”
2nd-Round Pick Colby Robak (46th Overall)
Robak, a 6-3, 195-pound defenseman, was another player Luce had ranked on his short list. To make sure Roback was still around when it was their time to pick, the Panthers traded up three spots with Phoenix and gave away their fourth-round pick next year to land the 6-3, 195-pound defenseman.
“We had to move up a few picks to get him but we felt it was too good an opportunity,” Luce said. “We feel he could be a top four defenseman in the National Hockey League.”
A member of the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League, Robak is described by Luce as a “big guy with very good skating ability.”
“His upside is very high,” said Luce, who added Robak flew back Saturday morning from Ottawa to Manitoba to attend his high school graduation.
Adam Comrie, a 6-4, 205-pound defenseman from Saginaw of the Ontario Hockey League, was chosen in the third round (80th overall).  Born in Ottawa, Comrie moved to Virginia when he was nine. He models his game after Chris Pronger. Ranked in the 80s during Central Scouting’s midterm report, he ended up being the No. 44-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting at the end of the year.
“He’s another good skater,” Luce said. “He brings a dimension of a little bit of grit and a little bit of bite to his game. He has a big shot from the point and he’s very competitive.”
A.J. Jenks was selected in the fourth round (100th overall). A forward who may project best as a winger in the NHL, Jenks is a “versatile forward and a very good two way player,” Luce added.
The Panthers last selection in the draft was Matt Bartkowski (190th overall), an unranked player from the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League. Bartkowski, a 6-1, 200-pound defenseman, had four goals and 37 assists with 135 penalty minutes last season. He was also a plus 19.
“He has a hell of a shot from the point and a lot of grit,” Luce said.
The Panthers will head back Sunday to South Florida. Martin will meet Tuesday with head coach Peter DeBoer and re-evaluate the roster and staff in the next several weeks.




1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48


J. Huberdeau 73 13 36 9 49
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jagr 71 15 26 -2 41
J. Jokinen 75 8 33 -2 41
B. Boyes 73 12 23 10 35
A. Ekblad 75 11 24 11 35
J. Hayes 66 18 13 -5 31
A. Barkov 65 14 17 -1 31
B. Campbell 76 3 22 2 25
B. Pirri 43 20 2 5 22
R. Luongo 26 17 12 .921 2.33
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
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