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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 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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