One of the major prospects that has been mentioned a lot in the Florida Panthers system is Kyle Rau. However I don’t think the 91st overall pick in 2011 will become a solid NHLer.
Kyle Rau has been one of the most hyped up prospects in the Panthers system. Putting up big numbers in his final year at the University of Minnesota with 20 goals and 21 assists in 39 games in 2014-15. The Panthers sent Rau to the AHL to start 2015-16. Rau did well in the AHL and earned a call-up with the slew of injuries in February 2016.
Rau along with current Panther Defenseman Michael Matheson made their NHL Debut on February 20, 2016. That night is more well known for Jaromir Jagr becoming the 3rd highest goal scorer in NHL history. Rau played well in his 9 games in the NHL in 2015-16. While he didn’t record a point, he was solid at driving to the net and getting into the dirty areas. One big problem is that he isn’t a good finisher.
In the 2016 offseason, the Panthers traded fellow short prospect Rocco Grimaldi to Colorado. The Panthers chose to keep Rau over Rocco because Rau was gritter and he wasn’t pushed over as much as Rocco. Standing at 5 feet 8 inches and weighing 180 lbs, Rau doesn’t have the size to compete very well in the NHL.
In 2016-17, Rau was called up to play 24 games and he posted 2 goals and 1 assist. All of Rau’s points came in his first 10 games in the call-up. Rau is not very good at finishing. While him and Jonathan Marchessault are similar size, Marchessault can finish. Denis Malgin can finish. Rau is not good at finishing. If you can’t finish in today’s NHL as a forward, you better be good defensively or have a good pass. Rau was a -3. He has a decent pass but his lack of size means he has trouble defensively. His Corsi For was a 46.9% last year. That was good for 25th on the team. His Corsi Realitive For was -7.0 which put him at 27th on the team.
There are several other good prospects in the Panthers system that will leave Rau buried. Jayce Hawryluk and Jared McCann look to join the Panthers next year with other forwards such as Maxim Mamin, Henrik Haapala, Adam Mascherin, Henrik Borgstrom, Juho Lammikkio, Dryden Hunt and others following. Rau was drafted years before all of them. You are going to go with the younger talent and let them develop. Rau is nearing the end of his development stage and with his performance and size at this stage it is doubtful Rau will become a solid consistent NHL player.
The Panthers will likely give Rau a final chance at training camp. If he fails to impress there, his days as a member of the Panthers organization are numbered.