From The Press Box

From The Press Box is a weekly column written by and writer Alain Poupart. Poupart has been covering the Panthers and the NHL for 20 years.

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McCoshen Among A Deep Blue Line Prospect Pool

Being named to the Team USA World Junior Championships roster highlights a strong collegiate start for 2013 Panthers second-round pick Ian McCoshen

Thursday, 12.26.2013 / 10:20 AM ET / From The Press Box
By Alain Poupart  -
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McCoshen Among A Deep Blue Line Prospect Pool
Defenseman Ian McCoshen will look to help Team USA defend their gold medal at the World Junior Championship in Sweden. (Getty Images)

The World Junior Championships began Thursday morning in Sweden, with Team USA looking to repeat its gold-medal-winning performance of last winter.

Among the players on the Team USA roster this year is defenseman Ian McCoshen from Boston College. He also happens to be a member of the Florida Panthers organization and part of a large crop of blue-chip defensemen prospects.

No doubt, the two prospects who have attracted attention recently have been centers Nick Bjugstad and Aleksander Barkov, and they’ve pretty much crossed the line from prospects to bona fide young NHL stars.

The reality, though, is that the Panthers have as much high-end young talent in the organization on the blue line as they do up front, if not more.

Clearly, McCoshen is part of that group. Getting named to the Team USA roster was quite an accomplishment for the college freshman, whom the Panthers selected in the second round of the 2013 draft (31st overall) — one round after they took Barkov with the second overall pick.

McCoshen’s college career is off to a tremendous start. He leads all BC defensemen in scoring with nine points (three goals, six assists) in 16 games and his plus-18 ratio is the best on the entire team.

The second-leading scorer among BC defensemen, incidentally, is Michael Matheson, who was the Panthers’ first-round pick in 2012. Matheson has seven points and a plus-9 ratio, following an impressive 2012-13 campaign that earned him New England Division I all-star recognition.

But it’s not just McCoshen and Matheson, although that’s a pretty good start.

Panthers fans got a brief glimpse Monday night at another of the team’s high-end defenseman prospects when Alex Petrovic was recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League after Young Gun Erik Gudbranson underwent orbital bone surgery.

Petrovic, who has been viewed as a top prospect since he was taken in the second round of the 2010 draft, got 15:35 of ice time against Tampa Bay, including 8:49 in the third period. Coach Peter Horachek said Petrovic didn’t have a strong outing against the Lightning, but he also pointed out that the same applied to practically every player on the roster during a forgettable evening.

Logic says that Petrovic, who was reassigned to San Antonio on Tuesday, will get better with more playing time. Remember, this was his first NHL action of the season after he had appeared in six games in 2012-13, starting with his NHL debut against the New York Rangers on April 18.

Horachek coached Petrovic in San Antonio early in the season before he took over as Panthers head coach and said the young prospect needed to get stronger and quicker with his decisions. That’s really not unusual to hear when it comes to a young player, particularly a defenseman.

Remember that General Manager Dale Tallon often has said it takes defensemen longer to blossom as NHL players, which is why Petrovic still needs more seasoning.

But what Petrovic has is an intriguing skill set, a nice combination of aggressiveness and offensive skill. He fits the mold of the organization’s crop of young defensemen, both at the NHL, minor league and collegiate levels.

Already on the Panthers roster there’s Gudbranson, along with fellow Young Guns Dylan Olsen and Dmitry Kulikov, all of whom are young, tall and have offensive ability.

In San Antonio, you have Colby Robak and Petrovic.

It may be a couple of seasons before the young defenseman prospects can start making an impact at the NHL level, but there’s reason to be confident it will happen.

The biggest reason for hope just might be Gudbranson himself. Before he sustained this injury, Gudbranson was playing the best hockey of his young career and he was continuing to establish himself as a force on the defensive end.

Gudbranson has been getting ice time on the power play and on the penalty-killing unit and, as Horachek pointed out Monday night, has been the most physical presence on the Panthers blue line.

More and more, Gudbranson is showing why the Panthers made him the third overall pick in 2010, a round before they drafted Petrovic. It is pretty evident that the Panthers made a good selection with the player they call “Guddy.”

Based on his start at BC and his selection to the Team USA roster, it sure looks early on as though the decision to draft McCoshen was a good one as well.




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 is the official Web site of the Florida Panthers. Florida Panthers and are trademarks of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks and NHL Draft name and logo are trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2016 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.