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In the Pipeline: The New Kids On the Block

by Mike Lewis / FloridaPanthers.com

It's been four months since the 2017 NHL Draft.

Development camp and training camp have come and gone and hockey season is back in full swing.

Florida Panthers 2017 first round pick Owen Tippett, after patiently waiting for his opportunity, made an impressive NHL debut on Oct. 17 against the Philadelphia Flyers where he led the Cats with seven shots in 11:39 TOI. At the 2017 NHL Entry draft this past June in Chicago, Ill., the Panthers selected Tippett and four other prospects. While the young first rounder is just starting his NHL career, his 2017 draft counterparts have started their respective seasons off strongly as they begin to pave their roads toward the NHL.

2nd round - 40th overall: Aleksi Heponiemi

Position: Forward

Fresh off of being named the Western Hockey League's Rookie of the Year in 2016-17, Aleksi Heponiemi has wasted no time proving he can live up to the honor and surpass it. With plenty of room for growth both physically and on the ice, the 5-foot-10, 141-pound native of Tampere, Finland has registered a whopping 22 points (5-17-22) in just nine games for the Swift Current Broncos. From Sept. 27-Oct. 7, the 18-year old Finn recorded at least four points in four straight games. During that stretch he recorded four assists in three consecutive games. With speed to burn and dazzling stickhandling ability, Heponiemi is sure to be a prospect Panthers fans should keep an eye on this season. The clip below goes to show how he is currently ranked fourth in points in the WHL.

Tweet from @TheWHL: Aleksi Heponiemi has been listed as day-to-day with a serious case of dangle-itis. ������ https://t.co/gvTZ0io3uO

Tweet from @CraigJButton: Hey @FlaPanthers fans. This guy wearing #20 @aleksiheponiemi is pretty good with his �� @SCBroncos @TheWHL https://t.co/5Z560kgixN

3rd round - 66th overall: Max Gildon

Position: Defense

Florida's third round pick in the '17 Draft Max Gildon has impressed early as a freshman for the University of New Hampshire. The native of Houston, Tex., has registered three points (2-1-3) over four games for the Wildcats. In his first NCAA game, he posted an assist against UMass Lowell before tallying two goals over Colgate on Oct. 13. The 6-foot-3, 191-pound two-way defender enters the week leading UNH's defensemen in goals and is already off to a strong start to his young collegiate career.

Tweet from @UNHMHOCKEY: Check out the post game comments from Coach Umile, Marcus Vela & Max Gildon after tonight's game versus St. Francis Xavier. #GoUNH pic.twitter.com/lnRkrAuw12

Tweet from @UNHMHOCKEY: Check out the post game comments from Coach Umile, Marcus Vela & Max Gildon after tonight's game versus St. Francis Xavier. #GoUNH pic.twitter.com/lnRkrAuw12

 5th round - 133rd overall: Tyler Inamoto

Position: Defense

Off to a 4-1-0 start with the University of Wisconsin, Tyler Inamoto has registered two assists and nine blocked shots in his five games as a Badger. The 6-foot-2, 194-pound blueliner was selected by the Panthers for his heads-up play and his penchant for playing with an edge. He has already shown the Wisconsin faithful he is capable of doing both early into his collegiate career. With three freshman defensemen on Wisconsin, Inamoto has an opportunity to prove himself as physical presence on the Badgers backend. 

Tweet from @E_Levy3: Similar play here from freshman @InamotoTyler. He realizes he needs to get back to protect the goal, and was aware enough to do that quickly pic.twitter.com/uK4ojj0Qr8

Tweet from @E_Levy3: Inamoto again impressively aware too. He keeps his head up and looks around for the right pass, rather than just throwing up the boards pic.twitter.com/S6NPtpXr2j

Tweet from @E_Levy3: He also likes to hit people pic.twitter.com/aCb3tv0xox

6th round - 184th overall: Sebastian Repo

Position: Forward

Sebastian Repo waited a long time to hear his named called at the NHL Draft. The determined young Finn, now 21 years of age finally was granted his opportunity after a season in the Finnish Elite League in which he helped Tampere Tappara win the 2017 Liiga Championship and scored six goals in 18 playoff games to lead the league. Returning to Tappara for the 2017-18 season, he has registered one assist in four games. The 6-foot-3, 189-pound winger was in consideration for an NHL roster spot during training camp and after years of pro hockey overseas, it may not be too long into the future for Repo to fit into the Cats lineup.

PROSPECT ROUND-UP

BORGY NETS A PAIR

In his first game of the season, the NCHC Rookie of the Year and NCAA Champion Henrik Borgstrom picked things up right where he left off last season, tallying two goals against Notre Dame. His two goals in one game leads Denver, while he missed the second game of the season due to illness. 

Tweet from @DU_Hockey: borgy is back, everybody �� pic.twitter.com/cxrlRqzj7q

Tweet from @DU_Hockey: Power Play looked scary on Friday the 13th ������ pic.twitter.com/GceQx10G35

Tweet from @MikeChambers: I see Henrik Borgstrom had both goals in Denver's 2-2 tie at Notre Dame. That kid could be in Calder Trophy consideration right now w/ FLA

NASSEN MAKES THE JUMP

Cats 2016 third round pick Linus Nassen has finally made the leap overseas from Sweden to Canada. Nassen, a 6-foot, 179-pound defenseman has made an impression early as a playmaker earning six assists over eight games with the Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL).

GO JONNY GO

Between representing Team Canada at the Summer Showcase and potting two assists in one NHL preseason game for the Panthers, it's been an exciting past few months for 19-year old Jonathan Ang. The 2016 fourth round pick has exploded early with 13 points (4-9-13) over 10 games for the Peterborough Petes. The lightning-quick forward notched three assists on Oct. 9 at North Bay. 

Tweet from @coreypronman: FLA prospect Jonathan Ang with 12 points and 29 shots in 7 games to start his OHL season.

HEATING UP

After recovering from a shoulder injury this past summer, Panthers 2016 second rounder Adam Mascherin has not begun the season at the torrid pace he was at during 2016-17, when he tallied 100 points (35-65-100) in 65 games. With nine points (5-4-9) in 11 games, the Kitchener Rangers forward enters the week with points in his last three games as he is beginning to show shades of what he did last season. With his scoring ability and his league-leading volume of shots (49), it won't be long until Mascherin gets back into the swing of things again.

Tweet from @BrownRecord: Your new shots leader in the OHL - Kitchener's Adam Mascherin with 49.

Panthers 2016 fifth round pick Riley Stillman may not have a goal yet this season, but with eight assists in nine games this season he has registered three multi-assist games. The 19-year old also boasts a plus-six rating over those nine games for the Oshawa Generals despite the club's 4-4-1 start.

THUNDERBIRDS TAKING FLIGHT

Despite not getting off to the start they wanted (0-4-0), the Springfield Thunderbirds have had a few bright spots early in the season. Juho Lammikko, Florida's 2014 third round draft choice has registered three points (1-2-3) in four games, while offseason addition Curtis Valk has tallied three assists to tie Lammikko for the Springfield points lead.

Over the Thunderbirds' first four games, Chase Balisy tallied two goals, while 2016-17 Liiga scoring leader Henrik Haapala tallied his first AHL goal and Panthers 2014 second rounder Jayce Hawryluk posted two points (1-1-2) to start the season.

Instagram from @thunderbirdsahl: Hawryluk comes up big to tie it up.

On the blueline Florida Panthers training camp standouts Josh Brown and Ed Wittchow have contributed early as Brown has produced two assists and Wittchow scored for Springfield in the T-Birds season opener. Defenseman Reece Scarlett, acquired at the 2017 trade deadline from the New Jersey Devils scored on Oct. 14 vs. Hartford to earn his second goal as a Thunderbird in six total games since joining the organization.

Click HERE to view Florida's interactive prospect report.

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