By Glenn Odebralski for floridapanthers.com
Two days and 210 picks the 2010 NHL Entry Draft has come to a close in Los Angeles.
And for the Florida Panthers, its been a successful two days. The club added 13 players to their amateur depth chart, picking their most number of players in franchise history.
"Very good couple of days," said Panthers GM Dale Tallon. "Really stockpiled a lot of size, a lot of different type players. We got some toughness, we got some skill, we got some speed. We got a lot of character and that was most important.
"We got a nice mix of junior players, college players, one solid European guy and overall a really good array of selection of young players that help rebuild our foundation."
After picking Erik Gudbranson
(3rd overall), Nick Bjugstad
(19th overall) and Quinton Howden
(25th overall) on Day One, the Panthers added 10 more players on the second day.
The Panthers started off Day 2 by getting a player of value as they took Sudbury Wolves' (OHL) John McFarland
. The left winger was the 15th ranked player by Central Scouting Service.
Listed at 6'0 and 192 lbs McFarland finished second on his team in scoring netting 20 goals and 30 assists in 64 games.
"We were looking forward to this morning because he was the first guy on our list coming here this morning and we were fortunate enough to get him," said Tallon. "I like his grit. I like his quickness. I like his shot and I like his determination. His interview went really well. I saw him play a couple of times for Sudbury. He's got a little dimension, a little bit of nastiness to him as well so he was the first pick overall in the Ontario draft. We're very happy we got him this morning right off the bat."
"He's a guy that did really well at the combine, was really good in our interviews and we spent a lot of time with him on the due dilligence side of the equation," said Director Of Scouting Scott Luce. "Our homework turned out that this is a guy that we want to be a Panther. Coach DeBoer had his brother in Major Juniors so we're quite familiar with what he is as a person and what makes him tick. We like that selection and it's probably the one that we feel the greatest about right now in regards to having luck on our side."
Waiting to be picked in the second round, made for a long night for what many draft pundits thought was a slam dunk first rounder.
"It was a long one," said McFarland. "Bit of a disappointing day yesterday but at the same time, very excited today to be a part of the Florida Panthers."
The Panthers then got another "first-round" type player when they selected Red Deer Rebels' (WHL) Alexander Petrovic. The defenseman, ranked 29th overall, registered 27 points (8-19-27) and 87 PIM while skating in 57 games.
"He's another one that really fell to us," said Tallon. "We got two of the top four guys we had on our list for this morning starting out of the gates so that was good."
For McFarland and Petrovic, the snub of not being drafted in the first round will give them fuel to make it to the next stage of their hockey careers.
"You're a little mad because your competitive rate, you want to go in the first round but I think going anywhere in the draft, doesn't matter to me," said Petrovic. "You wake up in the morning, you have a smile on your face, you're going to get drafted today. I was just really happy to be drafted now and I have got that pressure off my shoulders.
"Last night I was like I'm going to prove all these teams wrong that didn't take me. It's a huge motivation to tell you the truth. I feel a 100 times greater today."
"There's a lot more motivation maybe now then there was before and I'm going to channel that and use it to my advantage," added McFarland.
With their third second round pick of the morning, 50th overall, the Panthers would select Des Moines (USHL) center Connor Brickley
. Brickley finished second on his team in scoring, posting 43 points (21-22-43) in 52 games.
"All my family and my friends came out to support me," said Brickley. "I had some interviews with the Florida Panthers. They're a young and upcoming team. Really excited for me to be on board. They were a team that cherished me as a player so I feel that the Florida Panthers is the best fit for me. I'm real excited to go there and play."
Off to play at the University of Vermont, Brickley brings it every shift of every game.
"My strengths are that I'm a high energy power forward," said Brickley. "I like to play with speed. I like to finish all my checks, get the crowd involved, get the team involved."
"When we picked Brickley," said Tallon. "He ran Gudbranson in a game and ran him heavily through the boards and that was one of the reasons we liked him. Anybody that would run at him has got to be fearless and nuts."
Florida then traded their fourth second round pick (59th) to Minnesota for the 69th and 99th selections Saturday.
With the third round pick (69th overall), Florida selected right winger Joe Basaraba
"I had no idea where I would end up," said Basaraba. "I just came in here with hopes to being drafted to a NHL team to hopefully some day put on a jersey and step on the ice."
Basaraba, who is off to play for Minnesota Duluth, played in 52 games for one of the best prep high schools in the country, Shattuck-St. Mary's in Minnesota. There the 6'2, 200 lb player picked up 22 goals and 24 assists.
"I think it was great, great for me," said Basaraba of playing at the school that has produced players such as Sidney Crosby, Zach Parise, Kyle Okposo and the Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Toews. "Great opportunity to follow in the footsteps of such as guys that have gone through there before and led on to have great NHL careers. For me it's a great stepping stone."
The Panthers then used their back-to-back selections in the fourth round to pick two players from the Atlantic Junior Hockey League.
First they took goaltender Sam Brittain
with the 92nd overall selection. Brittain went 23-19-8 with a 3.27 GAA and an .896 save-percentage in 52 games. He will attend University of Denver next fall and is expected to replace Panthers prospect Marc Cheverie as the Pioneers’ starting goaltender.
They moved up a position with pick number 93, grabbing Camrose Zodiaks' defenseman Benjamin Gallacher
. Still just 17 years old, Gallacher netted four goals and added six assists in 43 games.
"It's just an emotional roller-coaster for me," said Gallacher of Draft day. "I can't believe, it's just surreal for me right now, it hasn't really sunk in yet but it's a huge honor and I'm just really excited.
"I try to be offensive minded and put up a few points here and there but manage my defensive zone. Just a two-way defenseman that's going to keep it safe in the defensive zone but put up some points up front."
He is committed to play at Ohio State.
With their third fourth-round pick, the Panthers stepped across the pond for their only European pick in taking right winger Joonas Donskoi
. The Finnish forward scored seven goals and 17 assists (7-17-24) with 12 PIM in 32 games for Karpat Oulu (Finland Jr. A).
"The European players, there wasn't a lot as in past drafts," said Luce. "This guy's a character character guy. He works hard and he has skill. What he does well is he will play with more skilled guys and make them better as he does all the legwork and the gruntwork. He's a hard working guy and this is a guy that we valued."
Florida used their fifth round selection (123rd overall) to take Hamilton Red Wings center Zach Hyman
"I never thought this day would happen," said Hyman. "You dream about it as a kid. I've been dreaming about it since I was four when I put my first skates on. So many thoughts are going through your mind, I can't really describe how I'm feel right now."
The power forward who scored 13 goals and added 24 assists in 49 games last season is committed to play at Princeton University.
Moving on to the sixth round, Florida went back to the Kingston Frontenac well, picking defenseman Erik Gudbranson
's teammate Corey Durocher
. The forward played in 66 games and recorded 26 points (15-11-26).
Wrapping up their draft, the Panthers took a home-grown kid.
With the 183rd selection, Florida selected Cushing Academy (HIGH-MA) defenseman R.J. Boyd. The 6'3, 175 lb 18-year old, who had four goals and 18 assists in 31 games is originally from Sarasota, Florida. He'll attend Sacred Heart University in the fall.
"That was an exciting pick for us," said Luce of the Florida selection.
"He's a 6'3 defender, very good skater, very natural athlete. Didn't start playing hockey I don't believe until he was 10 or 11 years old so he's a late comer to the game. And he's a guy when you look at it, he brings that size, speed, skill and he has a lot of character."
After 210 picks, the Panthers and other teams can sit back and look at what's been accomplished.
"It was a heated struggle there where we were busy busy busy," said Luce. "It's exciting. It's a rush. We had a plan and we stuck to that plan.
"It's one of those situations we're going to look back today, later on tonight/tomorrow and say wow, we just landed 13 players. We re-invented our depth chart on the amateur side moving forward. We're really excited with these picks."
Now it's the prospects turn to prove why the Panthers have selected them and make the next step to becoming a professional.