2011 NHL Draft
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Panthers Add Blend To Prospect Cupboards

Saturday, 06.25.2011 / 5:00 PM ET / 2011 NHL Draft
Florida Panthers
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Panthers Add Blend To Prospect Cupboards
Panthers second round pick (33rd overall) Rocco Grimaldi shakes hands with Panthers owner Cliff Viner following his selection Saturday in Minnesota.
The Panthers opened up the 2011 NHL Draft on Friday by grabbing St John center/winger Jonathan Huberdeau with the third overall selection and then swung a deal to acquire defenseman Brian Campbell from Chicago for left winger Rostislav Olesz late in the day.

On Saturday they were busy adding to their prospect cupboards, adding both size and skill as they went for a blend in their athletes in selecting nine draft picks while adding a 2012 3rd round pick to their stables.

"Our mantra going into the draft this year is skill," said Panthers GM Dale Tallon who ended up selecting seven forwards and three defensemen overall. Their heights ranged from 5'6-6'3. "We looked at our depth chart and we didn't have a lot of skill throughout. This year the deal was let's get as much skill as we possibly can get with speed and character as well. It was a good draft for us because we got a nice diverse group."

"We still got a lot of guys in that mid-range area (second-third rounders) that we really value," said Panthers Director of Scouting Scott Luce. "We thought there was a lot of depth in that area and we went forward with it and I thought the draft plan was executed really well.

"We wanted character, skill, some speed and the size was probably the last preresiquite for this year because we feel we got good size moving forward."

Florida opened their day by selecting US Development center Rocco Grimaldi. The center ranked, No. 32 overall by Central Scouting, lit up the USHL this season posting 12 goals and 13 assists for 25 points in 23 games. For Tallon, it was like getting a second first round pick with the addition of Grimaldi.

"Every tournament we saw him play in this year, he was just dominant," said Tallon. "He played great. He was as good as anybody or better than anybody in those tournaments."

"Much shorter (wait) than yesterday, that's for sure," said Grimaldi. "I knew it was a new day. I knew wherever I was drafted to was where the lord was going to put me. I'm happy to be a Florida Panther."

Born in Anaheim, California, he has been able to put up outstanding numbers despite being small in stature (5'6", 163 lbs).

"I expect to win anywhere I go and I'm going to work hard to do that," said Grimaldi. "I try to bring speed and skill to the team."

"You always look at the size but you see a lot of great players in the NHL that are 5'6", 5'7"," said Tallon. "He was so dominant in all these tournaments against all these other guys that were all rated higher than him that were bigger than him."

"Rocco is a special, special hockey player as far as his competitiveness, his desire to win," said Luce. "You take away his lack of size and he would be a very complete hockey player. He's got good skating ability, great offensive instincts. The thing about Rocco is that in today's game, he's very tough to play against because of the lack of size also becomes an asset for him."

John Gibson

Panthers Nab Huberdeau With Third Selection

Glenn Odebralski - FloridaPanthers.com
In a meeting with the Panthers on Thursday night, Panthers GM Dale Tallon told Saint John center/winger Jonathan Huberdeau that he was there guy as long as the draft fell as it was expected.

Dale Tallon Post Day II: VIDEO | AUDIO
Scott Luce Post Day II: VIDEO | AUDIO
Kevin Dineen Post Day II: VIDEO | AUDIO
Rocco Grimaldi: VIDEO | AUDIO
Vincent Trocheck Post Day II: VIDEO | AUDIO
Logan Shaw Day II: VIDEO | AUDIO
Jonathan Racine Post Day II: VIDEO | AUDIO
Kyle Rau Post Day II: VIDEO | AUDIO
Ed Wittchow Post Day II: AUDIO

Grimaldi will take his talents to college where he'll suit up for North Dakota and play alongside Panthers prospect and junior Corban Knight (2009 fifth round pick - 135th overall).

The Panthers set to pick at 47th ended up moving back in a trade with San Jose. The Cats picked up the 59th selection and a 2012 third round pick. With the 59th selection, they used it on Rasmus Bengtsson, a defenseman that played for Rogle in the Swedish-2 league.

"Big left-shot D'. We have a couple of guys that are first year pros that are left shot but we don't have that depth in the system there," said Luce. "Rasmus was a very underrated guy in regards to he's going to provide secondary offense but he's going to be a shut down guy and a transitional guy."

With four selections in the third round, the Panthers were quite busy in selecting three forwards and a defenseman. They opened up their third round picks by taking Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native Vincent Trocheck.

"I had a little feeling before the draft (about being drafted there). I had a couple of meetings with them. I was just hoping they would pick me up there and words really can't describe the feelings," said Trocheck who posted 62 points (26 goals) in 68 games for Saginaw of the Ontario Hockey League. "You can expect a lot of hard work and I'm going to make the most out of the opportunity that they give me."

"Character guy," said Luce. "Very close to his family. He stepped outside the box and went and played in Michigan from Pennsylvania at a young age. This guy wants to be a hockey player."

With the 76th pick, the Panthers selected right wing Logan Shaw.

"I'm extremely excited. They were the team I was actually looking forward to going to," said Shaw. "I met with the organization a couple of times and I was pretty excited coming to the draft and I was hoping to go to a team like Florida."

"Logan's a type of guy on the right side, we're looking for a little bit of size on the right side and he's got good finishing touch," said Luce. "He's a late '92 so he's got one year before he can potentially turn pro. He's going to go back and put on some upper body strength. He's a skilled guy with size."

The Glace Bay, Nova Scotia native led Cape Breton in goals (26) and points (46) on a not so strong team (18 wins on the season). Despite being from far east Canada, he has had ties to the Panthers so to speak.

"It was the very first jersey (Panthers jersey) that I wore as a kid," said Shaw. "My mom bought it for me as a little baby. It's a nice jersey. Florida was a good team to watch."

The Panthers turned to the defensive end with their third third-rounder and tapped Jonathan Racine, a 6'1", 182 left-handed shot from Montreal, Quebec.

"I was nervous for my family but I'm happy to be with the Panthers, a good young organization," said Racine who posted seven points (two goals) in 68 games for Shawinigan of the QMJHL. "I'm a defensive defenseman. I think I make a good first pass."

With their fourth and final third round pick, they got the crowd involved as they took Kyle Rau, a center from Eden Prairie. The future Minnesota Gopher was the Panthers second straight pickup of Mr. Hockey after posting 70 points (33 goals) in just 25 games.

"It can't get any better getting drafted 20 minutes away from your house. It's unbelievable," said Rau who netted the triple overtime winner to give Eden Prairie a state championship at the Xcel Energy Center a couple of months back. "This past year has been amazing and this has capped it off."

"Kyle came to us very highly recommendated from our off ice due diligence," said Luce. "Everyone we spoke to spoke very highly of this guy. His training and his lower body strength is very comparable to a lot of NHL forwards that lack height."

After "sitting out" a round with no fourth round pick, the Panthers went the European route in selecting Yaroslav Kosov, a forward that played for Magnitogorsk 2 in the Russian Junior league. The 6'3

"We saw a lot of video on him, a lot of good quality viewings and he came here for an interview. Doesn't speak English at all so he's got to learn that but we think we have got a guy there with his size and sill set that he's just got to polish things up a little bit," said Luce. "As a mid round guy, he's got time to develop that."

In the sixth round, the Panthers went back to the Minnesota High Schools to select defenseman Edward Wittchow. At 6'3", 189 lbs Witcchow recorded 23 points (nine goals) in 25 games played for Burnsville. He'll be off to Wichita of the USHL next season.

"It's crazy. Looking back at the start of the season I didn't think it would come to this just not being a well known name especially in the NHL world. Things picked up towards Christmas and I started to play a lot more physical and had a consistent season," said Wittchow. "Things just picked up and I became one of the luckiest Minnesotans to be even thought about for the draft and got lucky enough to be drafted."

With their final pick, Florida chose right winger Iiro Pakarinen from Finland. The 19-year old has played for Kalpa of the Finnish Elite League the last three seasons, posting 21 goals and 18 assists for 39 points in 122 games.




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

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