Let’s look at the Top 10 Florida Panthers Prospects for the month of January.
QUALIFICATIONS: Must have less than 10 games of NHL Experience
Stats (10-6) are as of January 1st
Stats 5-1 are as of January 6th
10. Jayce Hawryluk (Forward)
Acquired: 2014 2nd Rounder; Stats: Springfield (AHL) 33 GP; 6-11-17; Previous Rank: 8 (-2); Projected NHL Arrival: 2018-19; Country: Canada; Age: 22; NHL Potential: Bottom 6 Forward; Currently with Springfield
Heading into 2016-17, Hawryluk was the team’s top prospect after the Lawson Crouse injury. However a hand injury and the emergence of the 2016 draft class caused Hawryluk to slide down the rankings. Hawryluk is posting about a half a point per game in the AHL this year. At 5’11 and 192 lbs Hawryluk has the size to make the NHL but hasn’t made it yet. Right now he is playing top line minutes in Springfield. While Hawryluk might help in the NHL, he won’t have much of an impact and will likely spend his career as a bottom six guy. He likely won’t see any time in the bigs until next year. However if Hawryluk fails to make the roster, I’d trade him. In fact right now I would be looking to trade him as he is being overshadowed by the two first rounders Borgstrom and Tippett.
9. Henrik Haapala (Left Wing)
Acquired: Free Agent 2017; Stats: Springfield 18 GP 3-5-8 Florida (NHL) 5 GP 0-1-1; Previous Rank: 3 (-6); Projected Full Time NHL Arrival: 2018-19; Country: Finland; Age: 23; NHL Potential: Bottom 6 Forward; Currently with Springfield
Henrik Haapala has been kind of a disappointment. A while ago with The Rat Trick I wrote a piece on how he needed to develop While I was proven right, his development has taken a while. However there are some reasons. Springfield has horrible coaching and their line mixing is worse than Bob Boughner, which is saying a lot. He also has had injury trouble. When he had a chance in the bigs, he reminded me a lot of Rocco Grimaldi and Kyle Rau. Both Grimaldi and Rau were undersized forwards who were supposed to have an NHL impact but did nothing. Haapala is presumably injured again. However unless things change, I don’t think Haapala has the size to make the NHL. If he can make it full time he will likely play in a 3rd line role.
8. Anthony Greco (Winger)
Acquired: Free Agent 2017; Stats: Springfield (AHL) 35 GP 12-8-20; Previous Rank: NEW; Projected NHL Arrival: 2019-20; Country: United States; Age: 24; NHL Potential: AHL Top 6 Forward; Currently with Springfield
Anthony Greco is very interesting. Having gone undrafted, he was very solid at the Ohio State University. After the year was over, the Islanders AHL affiliate gave him a tryout. He didn’t make it. However he was invited to the Panthers development camp. The Panthers were impressed so they gave him an AHL deal. Greco posted 31 points in 74 AHL games. After a good start, the Panthers signed Greco to an NHL deal. Greco reminds me a lot of Logan Shaw. Shaw as an odd case. He wasn’t ready for the NHL but too good for the AHL. The best place for those players is probably the KHL. However Greco might have potential to do better than Shaw. Greco will likely see some NHL action soon but I don’t think he will ever be a full time NHLer.
7. Maxim Mamin (Winger)
Acquired: 2016 6th Rounder; Stats: Springfield (AHL) 23 GP 6-9-15 Florida (NHL) 0 GP 0-0-0; Projected NHL Arrival: Now; Country: Russia; Age: 22; NHL Potential: Bottom 6 Forward; Currently with Florida; Previous Rank: 9 (+2)
Maxim Mamin is set to make his NHL debut. After a really impressive stint in the AHL, Mamin is expected to be the first player of the Panthers 2016 draft class to make the NHL. Ironically, I considered him the weakest out of all of our picks in 2016. That has changed. Mamin will likely make his debut tomorrow against the Blue Jackets with Jamie McGinn and Radim Vrbata both in the doghouse. I haven’t seen many highlights of Mamin so I can’t say much on him. However based on his stats and my reading he will likely be a bottom 6 NHL forward.
6. Sam Montembeault (Goalie)
Acquired: 2015 3rd Rounder; Stats: Springfield (AHL) 22 GP 3.08 GAA .902 SVPCT; Projected Arrival: 2019-20; Country: Canada; Age: 21; NHL Potential: Starting Goalie; Currently with Springfield; Previous Rank: 4 (-2)
Montembeault is the goalie of the future. With Harri Sateri backing up Reimer while Luongo is injured, Montembeault is finally getting a shot to show what he is made of in Springfield. He has done well being the #1 man in Springfield. However, like in the QMJHL inconsistencies are brutal for Montembeault. He will get you a shutout one night and allow 5 goals the next. If he wants to make the NHL he needs to work on consistency. Hopefully Leo Luongo and Robb Tallas can help him make these adjustments.
5. Jonathan Ang (C)
Acquired: 2016 4th Round; Stats: Peterborough (OHL) 38 GP 15-28-43; Projected Arrival: 2019-20; Country: Canada; Age: 19; NHL Potential: Top 9 Forward; Currently with Peterborough; Previous Rank: NEW
Jonathan Ang almost singlehandedly made me change this list to the top 11 prospects. I wanted to include him so bad but he just couldn’t get past the top 10. Ang is a force to be reckoned with. The 5’11 forward has posted 43 points in 38 games. He also was a finalist for Team Canada but was cut. Ang also earned an ELC. Ang might see playing time in Springfield this year if the Petes come up short. However he will need a full year in the AHL before he is NHL ready.
4. Adam Mascherin (LW)
Acquired- 2016 2nd rounder; Stats: Kitchener (OHL) 39 GP 28-24-52; Pro Arrival: 2019-20; Country: Canada; Age: 19; NHL Pot: Top 9 Forward; Currently with Kitchener; PR: 6 (+2)
Mascherin had a slow start. Then out of nowhere he had a 15 game point streak which was just snapped by Owen Tippett and the Mississauga Steelheads. Mascherin will likely see an ELC soon, probably as soon as Kitchener is eliminated if it’s in time for him to get action in Springfield. Mascherin has a lethal shot and has 28 goals. Last year in 65 games he had 35 goals. Right now he is on track to get almost 49 goals. It is good to see him shoot more. He has 30 goal potential. However his size is a concern. He is only 5’9. As many Panthers under 5’10 have proven it isn’t that good (except Marchessault). Mascherin reminds me a lot of Marchessault as well. Hopefully Mascherin can fill the void Tallon created by giving up Marchessault.
3. Aleksi Heponiemi (C)
Acquired- 2017 2nd Rounder; Stats: Swift Current (WHL) 29 GP; 19-52-71 Finland (WJC) 5 GP 2-0-2; Pro Arrival: 2019-20; Country: Finland; Age: 18; Pot: Top 9 Forward; Currently with Swift Current; PR: 10 (+7)
The WHL’s 4th leading scorer has returned. After a decent showing at the WJC, Heponiemi just reported back to Swift Current. The 5’10 center is averaging about 2.5 points per game. <AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is where I start to lose a lot of stamina> Although I haven’t seen a lot of tape on him, he is one of the more talked about prospects in the WHL and a lot of scouts like what they see from the Finn. He has the potential to be a top 9 forward. Heponiemi will likely have another year in the WHL and will probably make the team in 2019-20.
2. Owen Tippett (RW)
Acquired: 2017 1st rounder; Stats: Mississauga (OHL) 23 GP 17-19-36 Florida (NHL) 7 GP 1-0-1; FT Arrival: 2018-19; Country: Canada; Age: 18; Pot: Top 6 Forward; OHL; PR: 2 (nc)
Tippett is probably the team’s best shooting prospect. The red head has 30 goal potential and would’ve made the NHL if not for a lackluster defensive game. His problems in the 200 foot game also cost him a spot on Team Canada. Look for him to focus on playing in the defensive zone. He will definitely be an NHL regular next year but he needs to develop that 200 foot game if he wants to reach his full potential.
1. Henrik Borgstrom (C)
Acquired: 2016 1st rounder; Stats: Denver (NCAA) 20 GP 14-13-27 FT Arrival: 2018-19; Country: Finland; Age: 20; Pot: Top 6 Forward; Denver; PR: 1 (NC)
Borgstrom is the consensus #1 prospect for the Panthers. He is also rated among the top 5 of NCAA NHL prospects. Borgstrom has put up 27 points in 20 games. Due to him being 20 he was too old for the World Juniors. He has top 6 potential and will likely be in the NHL next year. Look for him to take the third line center role and have McCann slide over to wing next season.