SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers already have had three players make their NHL debut this season, and they could have a fourth Saturday night.
Forward Quinton Howden, one of the team’s three first-round picks in the 2010 NHL Draft, was recalled Friday from San Antonio of the American Hockey League and took part in the morning skate Saturday.
Howden skated on a line with Jack Skille and Drew Shore, with whom he played in San Antonio this season.
“Very excited,” Howden said. “This is what you dream of, opportunities like this. I’ve been working hard to get this opportunity and I’m looking forward to it.”
He was so excited, in fact, he didn’t mind dressing on a chair in the middle of the dressing room because all the seats were filled. Howden, who had nine goals and 10 assists in 41 games with San Antonio, is among the large group of blue-chip prospects in the Panthers organization.
Howden is in line to join 2011 first-round pick Jonathan Huberdeau, Shore and defenseman Michael Caruso in making his NHL debut this season.
“It’s exciting,” Howden said. “You can see that things are starting from the bottom and building up, but all those draft picks with [Shore] and [Huberdeau] and me and [Erik Gudbranson] and all that, there’s a lot of guys that are making their debuts and are going to make a name for themselves.”
A 6-foot-2, 189-pound left wing who can also play center, Howden was the 25th pick in the 2010 NHL Draft.
Asked what he was looking to get out of Howden, Panthers coach Kevin Dineen didn’t hesitate.
“Speed,” he said. “That’s his No. 1 asset is his speed. If he can come out and establish that, that’s a part of his game, that’s a good step.
“I think he’s had a solid first rookie season that he’s gone out there and he’s found the adjustment to the schedule and how it is to play against big men. He’s still a work in progress but he’s headed in the right direction and deserves his shot if he can get in there tonight.”