CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – After spending the past three seasons manning the blue line at Boston College, defenseman Ian McCoshen
believes he’s more than ready to make the leap from collegiate to professional hockey.
A second-round pick (31st overall) of the Panthers in the 2013 NHL Draft, McCoshen recently closed the book on his NCAA career, finishing with 17 goals and 33 assists in 110 games for the Eagles. The Faribault, Minn., native also served as an alternate captain during his junior season and was slated to become one of the team’s co-captains had he opted to return for a senior swan song.
In order to continue growing as a player, however, McCoshen felt that it was the right time to leave school behind if he truly wanted to graduate to the next level of hockey.
“I took a year-by-year approach,” said McCoshen, who signed an entry-level contract with the Panthers on July 1. “From a development and progression standpoint, I felt like I was ready to make the next step and turn pro. I’m really excited.”
That excitement was palpable during the team’s annual development camp at the Panthers IceDen last week, as the 6-foot-3, 218-pound rearguard dominated drills and impressed coaches with both his skill and maturity.
"He's got man strength," Panthers Director of Player Development Bryan McCabe said of McCoshen. "He's a big kid. He can toss some people around. He's a pretty compact guy and a smart hockey player and knows what he is. Really well-rounded on the ice, smart hockey IQ, so he should fit in well here."
A two-way defenseman known more for his ferocity than his flash, McCoshen is one of several young defenseman hoping to land a spot on Florida’s new and improved blue line during the upcoming season. If he doesn’t make the cut out of training camp, however, the 20-year-old will admittedly have no problem reporting to the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Springfield.
“You take it day by day and you’ve got to earn your stripes,” McCoshen said. “I just take it as is. Nothing is given. I’ve got to earn (a spot), and that’s how I approach it.”
As of right now, the Panthers aren’t ruling anything out.
"He's in the mix to push for a job," McCabe said. "I think that's his goal, too. And it should be. [We] obviously made a lot of acquisitions, there's a lot of moving parts, but bottom line is if you're good enough and you're ready, they'll make room for you. So that's all he's gotta do."
In the end, McCoshen eventually hopes to be reunited with his former Boston College teammate, Mike Matheson, who made his NHL debut with Florida last season. The 23rd overall pick in the 2012 draft, Matheson has been serving as somewhat of a hockey lifeline for McCoshen ever since he signed with the Panthers in 2015.
“Mike was a really good reference for me,” said McCoshen, who played alongside Matheson at Boston College from 2013-15. “Seeing his success was obviously insightful for me. I was always picking his brain about what worked and what didn’t work in the pro game. I’m just trying to translate my game to that level.”
Matheson, meanwhile, is confident that McCoshen will have little trouble adapting.
“He’s a great player,” Matheson said. “He’s got an amazing shot and plays a really solid two-way game… I think he’s definitely got a future in this league and with the Panthers.”