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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.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 74 13 36 9 49
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jokinen 76 8 33 -4 41
B. Boyes 74 13 23 10 36
A. Ekblad 76 11 24 10 35
J. Hayes 67 18 14 -6 32
A. Barkov 66 14 17 -3 31
B. Campbell 77 3 23 2 26
B. Pirri 44 21 2 6 23
D. Bolland 48 5 16 1 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 26 18 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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