The Panthers had to go through trials and tribulations for over a decade before finally reaching the Stanley Cup Playoffs this past season. Prospect Quinton Howden knows the feeling of working so hard through adversity.
At the age of five, before he had ever stepped onto the ice, he was involved in a bicycle accident that resulted in a broken femur and doctors believing that he might never be a successful athlete.
“I think about it and it drives me to be better and want to prove myself," said Howden. "But it is something that happened in the past and I move forward from it.”
Howden has moved forward from the accident and after his success with the WHL (Western Hockey League)’s Moose Jaw Warriors in each of the last three seasons, it seems to be just a matter of time before he is called to South Florida to become a member of the Panthers.
When the Panthers used their first-round pick with the 25th selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft on Howden, the team hoped that he could continue to develop and eventually be a part of a winning franchise in South Florida. Howden has improved and hopes to contribute to the new atmosphere very soon.
Howden racked up 209 points (98-111-209) in 187 regular season games over the last three seasons with Moose Jaw. After recording 65 points (in 65 games) the year he was drafted, Howden posted 79 points (including 40 goals) in just 60 games last season before following it up with 65 points (30 goals) in an injury shortened 52 game season. During the 2012 WHL Playoffs, Howden saw ice time in 14 games for the Warriors and registered 15 points (5-10-15). Howden faced point spurts and droughts during Moose Jaw’s playoff run and are some things he may see when he one day reaches the NHL.
“The playoffs are a totally different season so I was just trying to contribute and at certain times I was able to be successful in ways and that made me happy too,” Howden said.
Howden was then able to get a taste of professional hockey after Moose Jaw’s playoff run ended as he played in four playoff games for the San Antonio Rampage in the AHL, but did not record any points. Even though it was short lived, the playoff experience can certainly go a long way towards his development.
While Howden does not have a timetable set for when he hopes to make the jump to the NHL, he doesn’t want to approach the next few weeks leisurely either. He knows that if he wants to make the Panthers roster now is a great time to prove himself with training camp coming up at the start of Fall.
At the Panthers Development Camp in early-July, Howden took a different approach than the other prospects since an injury kept him off the ice and resulted in everything he learned happening away from the skating surfaces. After the camp ended, Howden has focused on training hard until it is time to return to South Florida for training camp, which is something he is really looking forward to since the opportunity is there for him to snag a roster spot.
Howden is already thinking about ways to improve that not only will make him a better hockey player, but also help him stack up against the competition he expects to face at the NHL level, which include putting on weight and getting stronger.
As Howden tries to get acclimated with the Panthers organization and the things that come with being a professional hockey player in the NHL, he is not alone. With the Panthers on the rise and numerous draft picks working their way up through the system, Howden is one of several in the same situation.
“I think it’s awesome, I mean you have to start from somewhere and to see the whole thing start from scratch here it’s awesome,” Howden said.
The Panthers look to continue rising and Howden hopes that he is with them for every second of it.