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A Great Change For McFarland

Panthers 2010 second round pick John McFarland takes trade in hand, looks to future.

Wednesday, 08.3.2011 / 4:54 PM ET / News
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A Great Change For McFarland
John McFarland skates in a game this past season for the Saginaw Spirit (Photo Credit: Saginaw Spirit)
By Scott Altman for floridapanthers.com

When the Sudbury Wolves selected John McFarland with the first overall pick in the 2008 OHL Draft, team owner Mark Burgess told the media, "I hope one day we can retire [McFarland’s] number 18."

From the get-go of his junior hockey career, lofty and overzealous expectations smothered McFarland. But the 16-year-old proved mature and skilled beyond his years, racking up 21 goals and 52 points in an outstanding rookie season.

However, the honeymoon didn’t last for long.

McFarland’s numbers grew stagnant during his sophomore season, and the Sudbury fan base, starving for a Memorial Cup, turned impatient with the kid they hoped would bring them a championship.

Soon there after, rumors of a potential trade began swirling at warp speed. And just two and a half seasons into his Wolves career, the kid once heralded as Sudbury's savior was now a local pariah.

Midway through the 2010-11 season, Sudbury traded McFarland to the Saginaw Spirit in exchange for three players and a draft pick.

“It was definitely hard,” said McFarland, who the Florida Panthers selected with the 33rd overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. “It was tough to leave Sudbury after two and half years. I really did enjoy my time there, but it was a great change for me and I couldn’t be happier.”

When McFarland says it was a great change, he isn’t lying. The 6-foot, 192-pound center completely revived his game after the trade, tallying 19 goals and 33 points in 37 games for Saginaw.

“Things just started to click,” he said. “I got healthy and I started to put the numbers up that I was expected to earlier in my career… It worked out for both of us.”

And as McFarland’s game is reborn, so is his NHL outlook.

Following his breakthrough season in Saginaw, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon rewarded McFarland with an entry-level contract and a chance to play for Florida in the upcoming season.

But before McFarland can don a Cats sweater, he knows he must hone his skills and polish his game. Hoping to inch closer to his NHL dream, McFarland took to the ice at Florida’s Development Camp in early July.

“I’m working on every area possible, both mentally and physically to prepare myself,” he said. “To make the NHL nowadays, you have to be an all-around player.”
 

McFarland skated alongside fellow 2010 Draftees Nick Bjugstad, Quinton Howden, Erik Gudbranson and Alex Petrovic throughout the week, giving fans a glimpse of the team’s future nucleus.

Even though McFarland is part of that future core, he does not plan on waiting any longer to play in the NHL. After enduring such a tumultuous junior career to date, his eyes are now set on the big leagues.

“It’d be a dream come true to play for this team next year,” he said. “It’s your goal and it’s something you want to strive for.”

Whether or not McFarland actually makes Florida’s roster won’t dictate his success over the upcoming season. He has proven immune to criticism and doubt, and with a fresh start in Saginaw, the sky is once again the limit for McFarland.

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01
 
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