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Florida Panthers

Prospect Review: Draft Picks #3 and #2

With the 2013 NHL Entry Draft over two months behind us, and the upcoming season rapidly approaching, a draft review for the top 5 picks would be quite appropriate.  These players may very likely be playing in the NHL come October and should be considered serious Calder contenders.  Continuing with picks #3 and #2:

The Tampa Bay Lightning choosing third overall selected Halifax left winger Jonathan Drouin.  Drouin, a part of the Memorial Cup-winning Halifax team, played a key role along with MacKinnon in the final game of the tournament against the Portland Winterhawks to lock up the win.  Along with his stellar Memorial Cup performance, he also racked up an incredible 105 points in 49 games with the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL regular season, earning him the title of CHL’s Player of the Year.  Drouin seems to create magic every time he touches the puck.  He has the ability to make defensemen look silly, slow the game down, and to set up teammates with excellent scoring opportunities, making him the ultimate offensive threat.  The selection of Drouin adds another highly skilled forward to the Lightning’s roster.  With what appeared to be a hole in the team’s top six forward group heading into the draft, choosing Drouin should definitely assist in filling that gap.  With his remarkable play-making skills, the idea of a powerplay showcasing Drouin and one of the leagues most dominant and natural goal scorers in Steven Stamkos is nothing short of frightening for opposing teams.  Expect to see Drouin in many NHL highlight reels to come.

The next pick seemed to be a shock to many.  The Florida Panthers selected Russian center Aleksander Barkov, opting to pass on the top defensive prospect Seth Jones.  The big 6’3” centerman scored an impressive 48 points in 53 games with Tappara Tampere before missing the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury.  Barkov is a mixture of both size and offensive ability, a combination rare enough to have any NHL scout salivating over such a player.  He shows great maturity in his hockey sense from playing at a young age against much older players in Finland’s SM-Liiga.  A Florida team that struggled greatly in the past season picked in terms of immediate impact in the upcoming NHL season.  Florida GM Dale Tallon would explain his pick by stating: “He played against men as a 16 and 17-year-old.” Tallon went on to call Barkov “a big centerman with skill that plays both ends of the ice,” a skill which “fits in with what we have in our system.”  Tallon would also mention that he’s “anxious to get him playing.”  With Tallon’s comments and Barkov’s skill and maturity, it seems as though his spot on the Panthers’ roster in the approaching season is almost a certainty.

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