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The Mighty Quin

by Alain Poupart / Florida Panthers

“Come all without, come all within


You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn”
    -Bob Dylan, “The Mighty Quinn”

Forward Quinton Howden celebrates his first NHL goal after scoring in Tampa Bay on March 13. (Getty Images)

So Quinton Howden isn’t going to score every single game this year.

It sure may have seemed that way after he scored in Tampa Bay in his very first NHL game of the season and then did it again back home in Sunrise against the New Jersey Devils the very next night.

In his third game, Howden didn’t make it on to the goal sheet but did extend his point streak as he picked up an assist against the Canucks. We won’t hold his point-per-game pace against him if you won’t.

It was quite a contrast from last year when Howden failed to score in 18 games after getting a late-season call-up. And while he is finding the net much more easily this year, we’re seeing the same skills we saw at the end of last season.

They’re the skills that should keep Howden in the NHL for a long time.

Put quite simply, the kid from Winnipeg can fly.

His speed was on display late last season and he certainly hasn’t slowed down. But with a Cats lineup now stacked with big-time playmakers, that speed can now be leveraged to achieve big-time results.

The Panthers are drowning in riches down the middle with the likes of Nick Bjugstad, Aleksander Barkov, Drew Shore, Vincent Trocheck and Brandon Pirri. With a speedy winger like Howden adding to a core of flankers that includes Jonathan Huberdeau, Sean Bergenheim, Jimmy Hayes and Brad Boyes, the Panthers all of a sudden have the much-needed depth that is a prerequisite for going far in today’s NHL, and getting there fast.

Howden was the third of three Panthers first round picks in 2010 after Erik Gudbranson and Bjugstad. And while Howden may have taken a little bit longer to emerge as an everyday NHL player, it appears to have been well worth the wait.

Howden is one of many young faces we’re seeing in the Panthers lineup these days as the injury bug continues to flare up.

The positive side to the injury issue is that some of the young prospects are gaining valuable NHL experience, something that could only benefit them in the long run. It’s also fun for the fans of the team to catch a glimpse of the future.

It wasn’t just Howden who followed his first NHL goal with another the very next game. Trocheck did that as well, following up his empty-netter against New Jersey with a nifty wrap-around against Vancouver on Sunday afternoon. And with increased ice-time and power-play minutes, young Jimmy Hayes has also taken full advantage, notching four goals in his last five games.

As for Howden, it appears pretty evident is that while he might not have received the attention of some of the other Panthers prospects in the past, he should be watched closely going forward. Put another way, this is one speedster worth keeping up with.

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