A couple weeks ago, the Florida Panthers were awarded the 10th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. This article will examine if we should hold on to the pick or get rid of it. I will list pros and cons and I will measure them up.
Scoring- The Panthers are in desperate need of a forward who can put up 30 goal seasons consistently and score on the powerplay. While Jonathan Marchessault had 30 goals last year, you want to be sure he will continue his success next year. However, Marchessault like many of the Panthers forwards is very streaky. He scores goals in streaks. The Panthers need a guy who will score 1 goal every couple of games. We already have several guys who will score like 5 goals in 4 games and then not see the scoresheet for a month. There are several good scorers in the draft such as Owen Tippett; Michael Ramussen and Cody Glass.
Defensive Help- Another good thing about this draft are the defenders. Many of these defensemen don’t seem to be the type who score a lot which must mean they are shutdown defenders. The Panthers don’t have any true shutdown defenders. Our two best shutdown guys are Petrovic and Pysyk. Pysyk, I have no problems with but Petrovic made several mistakes last year. There are several defenders in the top 25 that would be good options such as Timothy Liljergen, Cale Makar and others.
Salary Cap Defense Issues- There are several issues though with the salary cap for defenders. Keith Yandle making $6.35M for the next 6 years with an NMC is atrocius defensively and it seemed most of his assists were secondary assists. Jason Demers was good to start but then burned out on both offense and defense and seemed like an AHLer in the NHL near the end of the year. He is making $4.5M for the next few years. Aaron Ekblad had a belated sophmore slump in his third season as his confidence struggled and he is projected to start making $7.5M for the next eight years. I do think Ekblad will bounceback next year only if he is held out of all summer tournaments. Yandle is too small for a defender and I want to give Demers another shot. The offensive situation with struggles from Reilly Smith and Nick Bjugstad isn’t helpful either. I don’t know if we can afford any more prospects.
Forward Core in Stone– Another thing is that the Panthers forward core is set in stone. Aleksander Barkov has potential to be an elite two-way center and is just so much better on the ice than anyone else. Jonathan Huberdeau put up a ton of points in just 30 games and still wasn’t 100% recovered from a severed Achillies tendon. If that is the case, Huby Dooby Doo will be a monster in a full season. However, these two must be kept healthy. Vincent Trocheck is a solid all-around forward who struggled near the end because he played through injuries. Reilly Smith’s career metrics suggest a better season in 2017-18 and Jonathan Marchessault is coming off a 30 goal season. Nick Bjugstad hasn’t been fully healthy in a long time. With Hawryluk, Mascherin and Borgstrom in the system up front, they will likely fill in the three spots in the top 9 currently filled by Jaromir Jagr, Jussi Jokinen and Tomas Vanek. Colton Sceviour is also a solid fill in option on the 3rd line until all of these guys are fully ready to be Top 9 forwards.
Verdict: Use It. The Panthers can draft a prospect and convince him to go to college so they can figure out the cap situation. Also, we don’t know how the three guys I mentioned in our system will turn out. In a weak draft, I don’t think the 10th overall pick will earn huge value.