TORONTO -- Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon is at the NHL Scouting Combine this week with an open mind as to who his team will select with the second pick of the 2013 NHL Draft. Though he wasn't going to divulge publicly whom he and his scouting staff have on top of their list, there is one thing Tallon hopes that player can do, and that's step into the NHL lineup immediately.
"We're hopeful," Tallon told NHL.com. "We're going to be a young team. It's going to be a necessary part of our puzzle moving forward. I would hope the guy we select can play for us next year."
That would be a change from Tallon's first two drafts with the Panthers. The team selected defenseman Erik Gudbranson with the third pick in 2010 and Jonathan Huberdeau with the third pick in 2011 and sent each back to junior hockey for an extra season of development.
The depth of talent in this year's draft could be one reason Tallon expects to find an instant NHL player.
"It's a pretty evenly balanced draft," Tallon said. "Looks like there's an equal number of forwards and defensemen that are very good. We have four picks in the first 97, so we feel we're going to get four really good players and really fix our depth chart."
Though he has those four picks now, Tallon said there's no guarantee they're the same ones the Panthers will have when they arrive at Prudential Center on June 30 for this year's draft.
"You never know," he said of potential trades. "You just don't know until you get to the table, and what leads up to it or precedes it as far as moving back or moving up. Usually what you do is you identify a line in the sand, and if this guy is still available then you might move forward and package a deal to move up, or if they fall behind the line than maybe you move back and pick up an asset. Just depends on how the draft really falls in."