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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
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.

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.

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01
 
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