With the 2012 NHL Draft kicking off Friday night, it’s time to take a look at how the Panthers’ 2011 draft picks fared last season.
Round 1 - Pick 3 Jonathan Huberdeau
Perhaps one of the greatest offensive prospects the Florida Panthers have ever had, left winger Jonathan Huberdeau is the real deal. The two-way forward has displayed just how dominant he can be in his stint with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL. The St. Jerome, QC native had one of his best seasons in 2011-2012. Despite only playing 37 games due to a foot injury, he still accumulated a whopping 72 points with 30 goals and 42 assists. That's almost two points a game. Oh and he also had a plus-53 rating.
Huberdeau also played for the Canada's Junior team this past year. He ranked third on the squad with nine points and helped lead the team to a bronze medal.
This amazing prospect has shown that even injuries won’t deter his drive to win. Huberdeau has a bright future and should be playing in the NHL very soon, most likely this season.
Round 2 - Pick 33 Rocco Grimaldi
Rocco Grimaldi’s 2011-2012 ended before it really began. The second round draft pick by the Florida Panthers played in only four games for the University of North Dakota as a freshman due to a knee injury.
The year before, the talented center tallied 39 goals and 34 assists for a total of 73 points as a member of the US National under 18 team. Look out for Grimaldi to come out strong next season to make up for a lost season.
Round 2 - Pick 59 Rasmus Bengtsson
Bengtsson bounced around a lot last season. He played for Rogle BK (Swedish professional club), the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL, and the Sweden national under 20 team.
Last year, the defensemen played his best for Muskegon. He posted three goals and seven assists for a total of ten points in 34 games.
The Panthers should be excited about his continued development as a player since he possesses good offensive skills for a defensemen.
Round 3 - Pick 64 Vincent Trocheck
Dale Tallon knew what he was doing when he picked up this Pittsburgh bred forward in the third round. Trocheck had his best season yet for the Saginaw Spirit in 2011-2012.
The 18-year-old led the Spirit with 85 points and was third on the team in points during the playoffs. His explosion in 2011-2012 led him to spend some time with the Florida Panthers' AHL affiliate, San Antonio Rampage. While he didn’t see any playing time, he got the valuable experience of how it felt to be in the playoffs professionally.
Trocheck had a breakout year last season and is looking to continue that moving forward.
Round 3 - Pick 76 Logan Shaw
Logan Shaw entered this season a member of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and ended it as a Quebec Rempart. At the January 7th QMJHL trading deadline, Shaw was traded.
“It’s not easy trading a player like Logan,” Screaming Eagles General Manager Pierre Roux said. “But I think he has a good chance to sign with Florida and we were able to get two good young players in return so I made the deal with Quebec.”
Before being traded, Shaw had 14 goals and 12 assists in 37 games. As a Rempart, Shaw added six more goals and nine assists.
The right winger, who oddly enough received his first Florida Panther jersey as a toddler, looks to be wearing one again soon.
Round 3 - Pick 87 Jonathan Racine
Entering his third season with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL, Jonathan Racine had his best season yet. The defensemen totaled 13 points while also having a career high 107 penalty minutes. He was third among defensemen on the team for points in the playoffs and helped capture the Memorial Cup which is awarded to Canada's best junior team (through a four-team tournament).
His aggressiveness makes up for his relative lack of size and that is something he needs to continue if he wants to make it to the next level.
Round 3 - Pick 91 Kyle Rau
The last of the four third round picks Tallon had at his disposal played extremely well for the University of Minnesota Gophers last season. In his freshman season, Kyle Rau had 43 points in 40 games with a rating of plus-23.
The 19-year-old forward also played in six games for the USA under 20 team. He had five points on three goals and two assists.
Round 5 - Pick 124 Yaroslav Kosov
Russian born right winger, Yaroslav Kosov played in two leagues during the 2011-2012 season. He played for Stalnie Lisi Magnitogorsk of the MHL for 12 games and also for Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL for 27 games.
In his 39 total games last season, Kosov had 19 points. The 6’3, 220 pound right winger will stay in the KHL for the 2012-2013 season and continue playing for Metallurg.
Round 6 - Pick 154 Edward Wittchow
The Minnesota native played for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL in 2011-2012. Wittchow scored 18 points in 60 games. The defensemen has good size at 6’4, 200 pounds and he should use that to his advantage to work his way up.
Round 7 - 184 Iiro Pakarinen
In 2011-2012, the seventh round Finnish forward had his best season in three years. In 54 games for Kalpa of the SM-liiga, Iiro Pakarinen had 13 points with 10 goals and 3 assists.
Despite being 20 years old, Parkarinen has played in Finnish leagues since the 2006-2007 season. His experience is an asset moving forward as the Panthers continue to monitor his progress.