The Florida Panthers Prospects Deserve NHL Experience

Florida Panthers prospects

Over the years, the Florida Panthers have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the NHL. Year in and year out, they try to make changes both on and off the ice. Yet, the results still end up the same. With so much futility, how Panthers are ever going to become a serious contender moving forward? They must start to develop some homegrown talent fully. Trying to build just through free agency will not cut it. It never has for Florida, overall, the different years of “big” free agency. The Panthers have still yet to make it past the first round of the playoffs in over 20 years. Considering the franchise is not even 30-years old yet, that is unfortunate. No wonder they can never get any fans. There is no culture. It doesn’t mean anything to be a Florida Panther. It has gotten to the point where the Florida Panthers hockey team is like the state of Florida. It’s only meant for vacation and retirement. If things are ever going to change to the organization, then the Florida Panthers prospects must play more.

The Lack of Homegrown Talent

Looking back over the past 10 years, the Panthers have struggled to develop many talents from their minor programs. Of course, there are guys like Aaron Ekblad, Jonathan Huberdeauand Aleksander Barkov that all were fantastic draft picks and lived up to their potential. But that’s only three players, with a team that rosters 23? That’s a bit of an issue. Every year they try to build a team. They focus on trades and free-agency. While these are great ways to acquire some talent to improve your team, the salary cap makes it nearly impossible to stack a team.

With that being said, the Panthers have had some success with this mindset, between different seasons like the 2011-12 season or 2015-16 season. Both years resulted in playoff appearances that were developed through free-agency and trades. Besides that, there is not much else to show for. At the same time, the future does look bright for the Panthers. They still are in dire need of players moving up through the system. Trying to sign experienced players, usually in the latter half of their careers, will do more harm than good. The years they brought in Dave Bolland, and Jaromir Jagr ultimately resulted in some bad contracts and only a few more wins.

Florida Panthers Prospects Need More Ice Time

If, and when, the Panthers ever become a serious playoff contender, it will have to be with the players they produce themselves. At the same time, there is immense talent across the league. As mentioned before, the salary cap truly handcuffs how much teams can build. That is where the young guys come in. Look at teams like the Dallas Stars, Carolina Hurricanes, and interstate rivals the Tampa Bay Lightning. All three of these teams are easy playoff teams and possible cup contenders. How did they do it? They built mostly through the draft and prospect development.

Looking down the road, the Panthers have some promising young talent in the system, with players like Owen Tippett, who leads the team in points in his first year in the AHL. Grigori Denisenko, one of the more talked about Panthers prospects, has a lot of skill and high agility levels, even with the puck on his stick. There is also Henrik Borgstrom although there have been some behind the scenes issues between him and management. Still, he has been able to put on some more weight this offseason, fixing possibly his biggest flaw. This should help him tremendously moving forward.

None of these guys will truly become “NHL ready” by playing a few games here and there. Look at New York Rangers defenceman Adam Fox this past season. Through his first 13 games with the Rangers, Fox recorded only four points. All of these came off of assists. Instead of panicking, the Rangers decided this was their guy and let him figure it out. By the end of the season, he finished fourth in Calder votes, and with a total of 42 points in 70 games played.

There are Even More Options

On top of that, the Florida Panthers prospects pool continues from there. The Panthers also have Brady Keeper and Chase Priskie, poised to step in on the back end. Priskie is an incredible skater who sees the ice very well. The South Florida native tore it up his first year in the pros. In 55 games played, he recorded 35 points in 57 games. Finishing second on his team in rookie scoring. Priskie is also excellent on the power-play, finishing third on his team in power-play assists. He will have the ability to take over Keith Yandle‘s role as a quarterback on the first power-play unit. Next to him, Keeper is another young defenseman that could make that next step. He is responsible for the net and has great positioning while not afraid to play physical in the corners.

Lastly, the two Finish prospects. Eetu Luostarinen and Anton Lundell. Both players are currently playing in the SM-Liiga in Finland and doing well. Luostarinen is in the top-10 in points through 12 games played. Lundell is also scoring at a point-per-game pace, showing his worthiness as well. He was the first “first-round pick” of Bill Zito’s Florida career and could make the jump to the NHL sooner than some expect. Through it all, the Panthers are slowly rebuilding a prospect pool that has looked meager in recent years. To take full advantage of it, and truly become a contender, they need to make sure they’re developing these players correctly. The most important part of the job is giving young players the right opportunity to succeed.

Main Photo:

Embed from Getty Images