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2018 NHL Draft: 5 North American Skaters Panthers Fans Should Know

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

SUNRISE, Fla. - The Florida Panthers will soon add another blue-chip prospect to their ranks.

After a 96-point campaign that saw them fall one point short of a place in the postseason, the Panthers will head into the 2018 NHL Draft with the 15th overall selection. Overall, Florida has six picks, with one selection in all seven rounds of the draft except for the third.

With the draft right around the corner, we here at FloridaPanthers.com have decided to help out Cats fans by making a quick list of draft-eligible prospects that could fall into the Panthers lap in the first round, which will be held at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Friday, June 22.

In no particular order, here are five North American skaters to keep an eye on at No. 15.

1. Joel Farabee

Date of Birth: Feb. 25, 2000

Place of Birth: Cicero, New York

Ht: 6-foot

Wt: 168 pounds

Shoots: Left

Position: Left Wing

Team: USNTDP Juniors (USHL) / U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

Pre-Draft Ranking: No. 12 by NHL Central Scouting (North American Skaters)

After selecting right-shot winger Owen Tippett with the 10th overall pick at last year's draft in Chicago, Florida could be inclined to now shore up the left side of the ice with Joel Farabee.

At first glance, Farabee checks all the right boxes that Panthers general manager Dale Tallon typically looks for in a prospect. He's got speed, a good shot and is already showing a strong dedication to developing a reliable 200-foot game.

At 6-foot and 168 pounds, Farabee makes up for his average size with great vision and hockey sense. He produced above a point-per-game clip with two teams this past season, notching 40 points (15 goals, 35 assists) in 26 games for Team USA in the USHL and 76 points (33 goals, 43 assists) in 64 games for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.

On the international stage, Farabee has helped lead the USDP to medals at the U-18 IIHF World Junior Championships in each of the last two seasons. After winning gold in 2017, he brought home the silver this season, notching four goals and eight points in seven tournament games.

Farabee is committed to Boston University for the 2018-19 season.

2. Bode Wilde

Date of Birth: Jan. 24, 2000

Place of Birth: Montreal, Quebec

Ht: 6-foot-2

Wt: 196 pounds

Shoots: Right

Position: Defenseman

Team: USNTDP Juniors (USHL) / U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

Pre-Draft Ranking: No. 17 by NHL Central Scouting (North American Skaters)

Already blessed with a name worthy of the Hall of Fame, Wilde is considered by scouts to be one of the more confident blueliners in this year's draft, as the two-way defenseman loves to compliment his physical with play with a willingness to shoot the puck and join the rush.

Wilde posted 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in 25 games for Team USA in the USHL this season, while also notching 41 points (12 goals, 29 assists) in 64 games for the USDP, where he led all American defensemen in goals, assists, points, power-play goals and shots on goal.

With his 6-foot-2, 196-pound frame, Wilde plays a physical game along the boards and can use his size to shut down opponents or knock them off pucks. He is also very active with his stick in the defensive zone, using his reach disrupt passing lanes and generate turnovers.

Still, it's Wilde's offensive upside that really stands out.

A potential future power-play quarterback, Wilde's shot has been described as an "absolute bomb" by some scouts, with both his snap shot and wrist shot benefiting from a quick release that somehow doesn't sacrifice any power for speed. Of the 12 goals he scored for the USDP this season, four came with the man advantage.

Wilde is committed to the University of Michigan for the 2018-19 season.

3. Serron Noel

Date of Birth: Aug. 8, 2000

Place of Birth: Guelph, Ontario

Ht: 6-foot-5

Wt: 209 pounds

Shoots: Right

Position: Right Wing

Team: Oshawa Generals (OHL)

Pre-Draft Ranking: No. 10 by NHL Central Scouting (North American Skaters)

It's impossible to overlook Serron Noel - literally, he's huge!

The son of a former CHL football player, Noel is one of the largest prospects in this year's draft, but also one of the youngest, as the Ontario native won't turn 18 until August. Because of this, he's also considered to be one of the draft's more intriguing long-term projects.

After posting just 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 63 games during his OHL rookie season with the Oshawa Generals in 2016-17, Noel broke out during his sophomore campaign, scoring 28 goals to go along with 25 assists in 62 games. He also suited up for Team Canada at the 2018 U-18 IIHF World Junior Championship, registering six points (two goals, four assists) in six games.

With his 6-foot-5, 209-pound frame, Noel does the majority of his damage on offense around the crease, as evidenced by a shooting percentage that approached nearly 30 percent. He projects to be a power forward in the NHL, but will need quite a bit of added seasoning to get there.

A high-risk, high-reward prospect, Noel's size and natural ability make him worth a gamble if the Panthers aren't looking for any immediate help from their first-round pick.

4. Barrett Hayton

Date of Birth: June 9, 2000

Place of Birth: Kitchener, Ontario

Ht: 6-foot-1

Wt: 185 pounds

Shoots: Left

Position: Center

Team: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

Pre-Draft Ranking: No. 9 by NHL Central Scouting (North American Skaters)

A threat in all three zones, Barrett Hayton is already fairly adept in most areas of the game.

With a high hockey IQ and excellent vision, Hayton prefers to make the smart play rather than the flashy one. He won't blow you away with any dazzling dekes, but his two-way game makes him an invaluable player at both ends of the ice, especially as a forechecker.

In 2017-18, Hayton posted nearly a point-per-game with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL, piling up 60 points (21 goals, 39 assists) over 63 games -- he also had eight goals and 13 assists in the playoffs. Although his wrist shot can be lethal from the slot and circles, most of his points come near the goal, as his hand-eye coordination makes him a solid net-front presence.

While he's listed as a center, Hayton has proven that he can also produce on the wing, giving him the flexibility to move up and down the lineup as a plug-and-play forward that teams covet.

If Florida wants to play it safe, Hayton could add depth to the team's deep crop of centers.

5. Ty Smith

Date of Birth: March 24, 2000

Place of Birth: Lloydminster, Saskatchewan

Ht: 5-foot-10

Wt: 170 pounds

Shoots: Left

Position: Defenseman

Team: Spokane Chiefs (WHL)

Pre-Draft Ranking: No. 14 by NHL Central Scouting (North American Skaters)

Ty Smith is thought to be one of the most intelligent players in this year's draft.

The WHL's Scholastic Player of the Year, he finished second among the league's defensemen in scoring in 2017-18, trailing only veteran David Quenneville, who is two years his senior. After a 32-point rookie campaign in 2016-17, Smith exploded for 73 points (14 goals, 59 assists) in 69 games with the Spokane Chiefs this season.

At 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Smith makes up for his lack of size with sound decision making and creativity on the blue line. A smooth and efficient skater, he uses his balance and agility to slow the game down, taking time to judge every outcome before making the right play.

A strong leader on the ice, Smith was also named the captain of Team Orr for the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and for Team Canada at the Under-18 World Championship this season.

If the Panthers are looking for another puck mover on the blue line, Smith could be a fit.

 

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