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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.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 74 13 36 9 49
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jokinen 76 8 33 -4 41
B. Boyes 74 13 23 10 36
A. Ekblad 76 11 24 10 35
J. Hayes 67 18 14 -6 32
A. Barkov 66 14 17 -3 31
B. Campbell 77 3 23 2 26
B. Pirri 44 21 2 6 23
D. Bolland 48 5 16 1 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 26 18 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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