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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 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

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
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
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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