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A Look At Future Young Guns

While the Panthers are led by the Barkov's and Bjugstad's, there are others in the pipeline that could be joining them in the future.

Friday, 01.17.2014 / 10:00 AM ET / News
By Patrick McGrath  - FloridaPanthers.com
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A Look At Future Young Guns

The Florida Panthers are loaded with young talent and they have one of the deepest prospect pools in the entire NHL. It starts at the top with guys like Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, and Erik Gudbranson. Each of these players is 22 or younger and each has developed into integral pieces of a championship foundation.

When it comes to “Young Guns”, the Barkov’s and Huberdeau’s of the world are just the tip of the iceberg. The Panthers have a talent pool that extends not just to their minor league club but also through the amateur ranks, from college hockey to juniors.

Here is a quick look at some of the Panthers future young guns; the guys you may not be familiar with now but could become household names a few years down the road.

Defenseman Michael Matheson poses after being drafted in the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. (Getty Images)

Boston Blueliners:

Coincidence or not, General Manager Dale Tallon seems to have an affinity for drafting big Boston College bound defensemen. The Panthers selected Michael Matheson in the 1st round (23rd overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and they followed that up by taking Ian McCoshen with the first pick of the second round (31st overall) in 2013.

Both Matheson and McCoshen were entering their freshman years at Boston College when they were selected by the Panthers. Now Matheson (a sophomore) and McCoshen (a freshman) have gotten the chance to build their chemistry on the blue-line and will continue to do so as they advance from college to the minors and eventually to the Florida Panthers.

Rocco Grimaldi

At 5’6” Rocco Grimaldi may not look like a big time hockey player but don’t let his size fool you. What he lacks in height, Grimaldi makes up for with skill, skating ability and a deft scoring touch. It was those attributes, not size, that convinced the Panthers to select Grimaldi with the 33rd pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Grimaldi, 20-years-old, is currently a junior at the University of North Dakota where he leads the team in scoring with 19 points (7-12-19) in 20 games. A native of Anaheim, CA, Grimaldi participated in the 2013 World Junior Championships where he scored two goals in the USA’s 3-1 victory over Sweden in the gold medal game.

Digging Deep

The NHL Draft is a funny beast. Sometimes you get the surefire superstar in the first round while other times you find quality players in the late rounds. In the 2013 Draft, the Panthers think they accomplished both of those things. We are all familiar with Aleksander Barkov, the Panthers second overall pick, but we may not be as familiar with Christopher Clapperton and MacKenzie Weegar; two players that have already impressed since being selected in the bottom of the draft.

Clapperton, 19, was a 5th round (122nd overall) pick of the Panthers this summer. The forward is currently playing in his third season for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL. When he has been on the ice, Clapperton has been stellar this season. In 29 games he has amassed 39 points (14-25-39) a scoring rate that would put him with the league leaders had he not missed most of December with an injury.

Also playing in the QMJHL is defenseman MacKenzie Weegar who the Panthers drafted in the 7th round (206th overall) of the 2013 Draft. The 20-year-old plays for the Halifax Mooseheads where he is the team’s top scoring defenseman logging 34 points (10-24-34) in 38 games.

With Weegar and Clapperton, the Panthers have a pair of late round draft picks that could develop into top prospects.

Picking stars in the early rounds is nice but when you can find quality players deep in the draft, that is when you know you are on your way to a bright future.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
8 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
9 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 49 16 21 11 37
J. Huberdeau 52 10 27 10 37
A. Barkov 42 16 19 13 35
J. Jokinen 52 10 25 12 35
V. Trocheck 52 17 16 4 33
R. Smith 52 16 15 11 31
B. Pirri 48 10 13 -4 23
A. Ekblad 48 10 12 21 22
B. Campbell 52 4 16 17 20
N. Bjugstad 37 9 8 -3 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 13 5 .930 2.13
A. Montoya 8 2 1 .931 1.93

 
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