For the Panthers brain trust, Thursday was one last time to meet with the prospects they might be interested in taking in Friday’s Entry Draft (7pm EST VERSUS).
Both highly touted defensemen Erik Gudbranson
(#4 for North American Skaters) and Cam Fowler (#5 for North American Skaters) were among those that were getting one last chance to state their case in why they should hear their names called by the Panthers when the third pick is announced.
Draftniks across the board believe one of those two players will go to the Panthers after Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall are selected in some sort of combination with the first two picks.
“That’s the way the draft is falling,” said Panthers GM Dale Tallon. The first two (Seguin and Hall) are forwards and then there are three or four in a row of the backend guys.”
Gudbranson and Fowler are just a few of the players that the Panthers wanted to speak with again. But with it being so close to the draft, what is the purpose of talking with the prospects?
“At the combine, some of them do 25-30 interviews and they’re worried about the testing, they’re on edge,” said Tallon. “They don’t know what to expect and they’re being interviewed by 30 teams with 10 guys in a room then they think about how they’re going to do in front of all these people and in front of the cameras and testing.
“When we get them in this environment, we get less of them together and they’re not being interviewed as often. They’re more comfortable. They have the experience under the belt at the combine, they know what to expect so you get a better feel for them when they’re a little bit relaxed and more on their game.
“It's just a matter of having our upper management see these guys one more time, kick the tires a little bit,” said Panthers Director of Scouting Scott Luce. “The biggest thing we like to try and gain from those players is a feel that they have of where they're going to go, who's showing the most interest in them because that helps us prepare our draft strategy.”
Both Tallon and Luce believe that whoever the Panthers take will have fantastic character and will be an integral part of the Panthers whenever they join them.
“These are real good kids. Great character,” said Luce. “They have real good skill set and we're looking forward to finalizing things later on tonight in regards to what we're going to do with that third selection. There's a lot of options at the three spot no question.”
“All of the kids this year I would say of the 10 years or so that I’ve been involved in the combine and interviewing these kids, it’s one of the best crops as far as character and personality and size,” said Tallon. “It’s really deep. They’re good kids. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen this many good kids.”