Ever since they were drafted, the hype around these players has been non-stop. With all the praise in the world, Anton Lundell, Spencer Knight, and even Owen Tippett have been promising prospects even since they were drafted. Now, with any young rookie or player, there is always a level of uncertainty in any league. Numerous “promising” first-round picks have failed to adjust to the NHL level. Forcing them to phase into the minors or over into Europe. Yet, despite their limited NHL experience, all of the Florida Panthers young stars are looking more than comfortable on the ice.
Florida Panthers Young Stars Rising to the Occasion
At the start of every season, there are always uncertainties for all teams. Whether it be about a specific aspect of their line-up, if so and so can have a bounce-back season, is that team’s goalie tandem good enough, or worrying about offensive production. With the Florida Panthers, there has always been a carousel of questions along these lines surrounding the team on the ice. Yet, things have changed this season. They are going from the negative what if or can they do this, and now the question surrounding the team is how far they can make it? Which player is going to win which NHL award? Or even better, which Florida Panther young star will breakout next.
Over the last decade, despite all the lack of team success, Florida Panthers fans have always had the luxury of watching guys developing like Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad, and others. In the past, those seasons of development were during rebuilds or down seasons. But, this time around is different. Now the team has some young guys that are contributing to an already championship calibre team. When it is all said and done, if Anton Lundell, Spencer Knight, and the rest of the Florida Panthers, young stars can continue their early success. The team will have a very bright future ahead of them.
Anton Lundell has emerged onto the scene for the Florida Panthers in a big way. Scoring his first NHL goal from Sam Reinhart‘s beautiful give-and-go feed, he also got his first points as a Panther. Beginning in training camp, Lundell stood out above the rest, earning a spot on the team opening night roster.
Coming over from Finland, sometimes European players need time to adjust to the NHL-sized rinks and style of play. Thankfully for Panthers fans, that is not the case with this forward. Playing in just a couple of pre-season games, Lundell made the roster mainly on practice Merrit and overseason performance prior. Starting as the third line centre, Lundell has adjusted quite well. Playing with Frank Vatrano or Patric Hornqvist and Reinhart, Panthers fans everywhere could notice the chemistry between Reinhart and Lundell. So much so that the two players combined for four points on Tuesday night. Some of those are coming from Lundells first NHL goal.
Lundell's first goal in the NHL is a beauty.
He's bringing home a lot of souvenir pucks. pic.twitter.com/OyA1C3SvSI
— Jameson Olive (@JamesonCoop) October 20, 2021
That is a great way to score your first NHL goal, huh? Nonetheless, this is not the reason Lundell has started and maintained a roster spot. It is his discipline and attention to detail that have impressed coaches and management. Most guys entering the league want to impress their organizations early and often. Lundell has done it the right way. By playing responsible hockey. Not only is he starting as a 20-year old centre and playing well, but he is also killing penalties and creating offence for his team. While it is still early on, Lundell has done everything he has been expected to and more.
What’s to be said that hasn’t been already. Spencer Knight has been an absolute treat to watch ever since he was at Boston College. He is continuing his perfect record in the regular season with a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Knight ceases to impress whenever he is on the ice. Finishing with a .968 save percentage and only 1.01 goals against average. Knight was aggressive and stood tall against a juggernaut in Tampa Bay.
Since 2000, only 15 goalies have been selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. Knight was the second-highest goalie drafted since 2010, behind Jack Campbell (2010 11th overall) and Yaroslav Askarov (2020 11th overall), picked at 13th overall. There is a reason he was such a highly-touted prospect. Extremely impressive in every game he has played in. Knight has all the making a future goaltending star. Even though he does not have an enormous frame, his positioning is excellent. At the same time, his reaction time is second to none. With goalies routinely improving with age, imagine how he will be in a few years if Knight is this good now.
Owen Tippett and Other Young Stars
Even though Lundell and Knight have stolen the show, Owen Tippett is another young gun that has continually improved over the years—showing his actual range of potential towards the end of last season. Lining up next to Huberdeau and Sam Bennett has helped Tippett tremendously. Scoring seven goals and 18 points in 45 games. Most of those came towards the end of the season when he received more regular repetitions with the big boys.
Kicking off the start of the 2021-22 NHL calendar year, Tippett was hot in pre-season. He was having no issues producing and was playing as he belonged in the National Hockey League. In comparison, that same momentum has not carried over into the regular season. Yet, Tippett has still played very well. Keeping in mind we are only three games in, Tippett has a 56.9 Corsi For percentage and 7.6 Goals For 60 minutes. He is doing everything right, and it is only a matter of time before the points start to rain in, especially once Reinhart gets going.
At the end of the day, the Panthers legitimately could not be in a better spot. With a ton of young promising prospects and rookies, on top of a ton of gifted NHL talent. The Panthers are Stanley Cup contenders for a reason. If the Florida Panthers young stars can continue to contribute, then a Stanley Cup indeed may be within reach.
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