Florida Panthers Draft Class of 2020

Bill Zito’s first draft is in the books. Let’s take a look at the nine newest Panthers.

Anton Lundell

Anton Lundell Age, Height, Salary, Nationality, Girlfriend 2019
Panthers draft pick Anton Lundell

Position: Center

Drafted: 1st Round 12th Overall

Country: Finland

2019-20 Stats: HIFK Helsinki (Liiga); 44 GP, 10-18-28

Projected NHL Arrival: Mid 2020-21

Height: 6’1 Weight: 185

Potential: 2nd Line Center

Overview: Described as the future #2 center for the Panthers, Lundell’s game is remarkably similar to Aleksander Barkov. Lundell is pretty much Barkov 2.0 without as much offensive upside, however, Lundell is NHL ready. It is expected he will be on his way to Sunrise at the conclusion of the Liiga season in April. He is currently playing with fellow Panther prospect Henrik Borgstrom in the Finnish professional league. Although those 28 points in 44 games don’t seem too impressive, keep in mind that he is a teenager playing in a professional league against grown men. Lundell was a projected top pick and Panthers fans were pleasantly surprised when he slid to 12. Most notable is Lundell’s competitive spirit. Lundell emphasized his commitment to winning in his draft interviews, definitely fitting in with the new Zito mold.

Grade: A+

Emil Heineman

Emil Heineman - Elite Prospects
Panthers draft pick Emil Heineman

Position: Left Wing

Drafted: 2nd Round 43rd Overall

Country: Sweden

2019-20 Stats: Leksands U20 (U20 SHL) 29 GP 26-15-41; Leksands (SHL) 11 GP 0-2-2

Projected NHL Arrival: 2022-23

Height: 6’1 185 lbs

Potential: Mid-6 Winger

Overview: A late riser, Heineman burst onto the scene putting up 26 goals in 29 games in the U20 SHL, earning a promotion to the professional SHL. A terrific skater with a sneaky good wrist shot, Heineman has a strong two way game which means he should have a good 200 foot game. Heineman was seen as something of a steal for the Panthers by many analysts. Heineman echoed the competitive spirit that Lundell had as well.

Grade: A

Ty Smilanic

Ty Smilanic – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile
Panthers draft pick Ty Smilanic

Position: Forward

Drafted: 3rd Round 74th Overall

Country: United States

2019-20 Stats: USNTDP 12 GP 3-6-9

Projected NHL Arrival: 2024-25

Height: 6’1 177 lbs

Potential: Mid 6 Forward

Overview: A projected mid second round pick, the Panthers nab Smilanic in the 3rd round. Hampered by injuries, Smilanic will attend Quinnipac University. A strong two-way forward, Smilanic is an efficent skater with excellent agility and a good work-ethic, as well as excellent at positioning himself on defense. However, his offensive game needs work as he is not a great offensive skater and loses the puck a lot. Quinnipac should help strengthen some of these flaws however. He’s a strong neutral zone forward but struggles in the other two zones. He’s a project but he has a lot of upside if developed properly.

Grade: B+

Justin Sourdif

2020 NHL Draft Profile: Justin Sourdif from Vancouver - Pension Plan Puppets
Panthers draft pick Justin Sourdif

Position: Right Wing

Drafted: 3rd Round 87th Overall

Country: Canada

2019-20 Stats: Vancouver (WHL) 57 GP, 26-28-54

Projected NHL Arrival: 2023-24

Height: 5’11 173 lbs

Potential: 3rd Line Winger

Overview: Another projected mid second rounder that slid into the Panthers lap, Sourdif is an extremely intelligent, hard working and excellent two-way player. He is a strong offensive player and plays a physical game, despite being under 6 feet tall. He has an extremely high ceiling and some are saying that if he pans out, he could be the next Pavel Datsyuk. Sourdif does need to bulk up his weight as many scouts say that he is a bit undersized. His offensive game needs a bit more consistency too.

Grade: A

Michael Benning

Can Michael Benning go in the first round?
Panthers Draft Pick Michael Benning

Position: Right Handed Defenseman

Drafted: 4th Round 95th Overall

Country: Canada

2019-20 Stats: Sherwood Park (AJHL) 54 GP, 12-63-75

Projected NHL Arrival: 2024-25

Height: 5’9 177 lbs

Potential: 2nd Pair Defenseman

Overview: In my opinion, Benning would’ve been a surefire first or second rounder if he was a few inches taller. An excellent offensive defenseman, Benning comes from strong hockey blood lines. His uncle Jim is the General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks. His brother Matt is an NHL defenseman about to enter Free Agency (Wonder if the Panthers target him). His father Brian was an original Panther. He told Jameson Olive before the draft that he took a picture of him in his dad’s old Panther shorts and sent him a picture, which is a bit ironic. A smart puck handler, Benning is an excellent passer with a high hockey IQ. He makes up for his size on defense with solid positioning. Benning however decided not to join the highest levels of the Canadian junior leagues, but we will get a good look at him as he goes to the NCAA this year with the University of Denver. He has been compared to rookie of the year Cale Makar. If he pans out he is a high-reward talent.

Grade: A

Zach Uens

Zach Uens - Men's Ice Hockey - Merrimack College Athletics
Panthers draft pick Zach Uens

Position: Left Handed Defenseman

Drafted: 4th Round 105th Overall

Country: Canada

2019-20 Stats: Merrimack College (NCAA) 34 GP, 4-14-18

Projected NHL Arrival: 2024-25

Height: 6’1 178 lbs

Potential: 3rd Pair Defenseman

Overview: A strong defensive-defenseman, Uens is an over-ager passed over in last year’s draft, he has a solid offensive game but needs to work on his discipline as he accumulated 68 PIM in 34 games. He was a bit of a reach as he was a projected 5th round pick.

Grade: C

Kasper Puutio

Kasper Puutio - Elite Prospects
Panthers draft pick Kasper Puutio

Position: Right-Handed Defenseman

Drafted: 5th round 153rd overall

Country: Finland

2019-20 Stats: Swift Current (WHL) 35 GP, 1-15-16, Everett (WHL) 21 GP, 4-8-12

Projected NHL Arrival: 2022-23

Height: 5’11 180lbs

Potential: 2nd or 3rd Pairing Defenseman

Overview: A widely varied ranked defender, Puutio is playing this season in the Liiga with Karpat. A reliable defender, Puutio is a strong two-way defender. His draft stock dipped as he struggled in the WHL, as before he was the highest ranked Finnish defender in the draft. He’s been compared to Nicklas Hjalmarsson.

Grade: A

Elliot Ekmark, C, Sweden (7th round)

Devon Levi, G, Canada (7th round)