New-Look HP! Unfiltered Articles Stats Glossary Contact Us
Hockey Prospectus home

New Look Hockey Prospectus is available with new Premium Content!
Limited time offer: $9.99 for an entire year!

<< Previous Article
Top 10 Prospects (08/28)
<< Previous Column
Top 10 Prospects (08/28)
Next Column >>
Top 10 Prospects (09/03)
Next Article >>
Summer Skate (09/01)

August 30, 2012
Top 10 Prospects
Florida Panthers

by Corey Pronman

Printer-
friendly
Contact
Author

Full list of NHL Organizational Rankings

Florida Panthers Top 10 Prospects

1. Jonathan Huberdeau, Left Wing
2. Nick Bjugstad, Center
3. Rocco Grimaldi, Center
4. Corban Knight, Right Wing
5. Drew Shore, Center
6. Alex Petrovic, Defense
7. Kyle Rau, Right Wing
8.Quinton Howden, Left Wing
9.Vincent Trocheck, Center
10.Michael Matheson, Defense

Organizational Ranking: 1st

System Overview: There's not much you can say about the top system in hockey, other than there are a lot of really good prospects here. The talent goes way beyond the 15th-best prospect, they have a potential star in Huberdeau, an elite goalie prospect in Jacob Markstrom, and plenty of players with really desirable upside at each position.

---

1. Jonathan Huberdeau, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: 1st
Date of birth: 06/04/1993
Age: 19
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 171
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 37 GP, 30 G, 72 P (Saint John-QMJHL)
Acquired: First round, third overall in 2011 by Florida

The Good: Huberdeau is a special offensive talent who regularly finds ways to dazzle observers with his unique level of skill. He's got true plus-plus hands with the ability to make rapid moves with the puck effortlessly. Huberdeau is so creative and finds ways to freeze defenders in their place or have them make a mistake in their gap control. He's also got plus hockey sense showing very good vision. His sense translates to his play with the puck as Huberdeau shows great patience and always knows the right way to attack a defense. He's a decent skater as well.

The Bad: Hubderdeau's physical game is his main issue as he's still a skinny player who needs to put on more muscle before he can be a truly effective NHLer.

Projection: He could be an All-Star forward.

---

2. Nick Bjugstad, Center
2010-11 Ranking: 5th
Date of birth: 07/17/1992
Age: 20
Height: 6'5''
Weight: 211
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 40 GP, 25 G, 42 P (Univ. of Minnesota-WCHA)
Acquired: First round, 19th overall in 2010 by Florida

The Good: Bjugstad is a uniquely skilled player for such a big player. He stands at 6'5'' per his listing, but this may the odd case where that's actually understated, as I wouldn’t be surprised if he's actually pushing 6'6''. He's a decent to solid skater who is well above-average for a player his size. Bjugstad has good hands as well, and like with his skating, they're great for a big man as his puck skills would be above average for a 6'0'' player. Bjugstad has a rocket of a shot that he can lean his entire mass into and score from a distance. Bjugstad showed a better playmaking element this season as well.

The Bad: Bjugstad's decisions aren't always great as he can force some plays or try to do too much. For a big man, he doesn't really utilize his frame as much as he could.

Projection: He could be a top line center.

---

3. Rocco Grimaldi, Center
2010-11 Ranking: 2nd
Date of birth: 02/08/1993
Age: 19
Height: 5'6''
Weight: 165
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 4 GP, 1 G, 2 P (Univ. of North Dakota-WCHA)
Acquired: Second round, 33rd overall in 2011 by Florida

The Good: Grimaldi is a great all-around offensive talent with plus tools across the board. He's a high-end skater and puck-handler who can simply fly up and down the ice. Grimaldi has the ability to maneuver with the puck well in full flight on top of showing good creativity and sense when his team is setting up to make plays. Grimaldi also has a great shot that has power and accuracy. His work ethic is as high if not better than his skill level as he gives it his all every shift and is able to win a decent amount of battles despite his stature.

The Bad: Grimaldi only has one major weakness and that's his size. He's been a top-end prospect for years but how he handles pro seasons at his size will be the question mark on him. He also missed his whole freshman season with a knee injury.

Projection: He could be a below-average top line center.

---

4. Corban Knight, Right Wing
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 09/10/1990
Age: 21
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 193
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 39 GP, 16 G, 40 P (Univ. of North Dakota-WCHA)
Acquired: Fifth round, 135th overall in 2009 by Florida

The Good: Knight is a versatile two-way player who shows a fair amount of puck possession ability. He's a very smart player, a creative playmaker who can make pretty flashy passes at times, and while he's not a dangler, he certainly has offensive skill. Knight has a good work ethic, as he'll take his checks with the body and hustles back to cover his assignment on defense. Knight can play wing and center effectively.

The Bad: Despite the fact he's listed at 6'2'', to me Knight actually looks a little undersized and he could bulk up some more. He's not a bad skater but just a notch below average.

Projection: He could be an above-average second line forward.

---

5. Drew Shore, Center
2010-11 Ranking: 4th
Date of birth: 02/08/1993
Age: 21
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 200
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 42 GP, 22 G, 53 P (Univ. of Denver-WCHA)
Acquired: Second round, 44th overall in 2009 by Florida

The Good: Shore turned pro after a second consecutive successful college season. Shore is a gifted playmaker who regularly shows the ability to make plays to his teammates at a top-end level. He's a multi-dimensional player offensively who has solid puck skills to along with a big shot. Shore has a nice gritty element to his game and plays pretty well in his own end. He has decent speed, too.

The Bad: Shore has no oustanding weakness, but some scouts question his skating a bit, as that's been his historical weakness. Shore needs to continue to get stronger.

Projection: He could be a good second line center.

---

6. Alex Petrovic, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 03/03/1992
Age: 20
Height: 6'4''
Weight: 205
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 68 GP, 12 G, 48 P (Red Deer-WHL)
Acquired: Second round, 36th overall in 2010 by Florida

The Good: The WHL defenseman of the year is a pretty well-rounded prospect. Petrovic projects as a high-end physical player due to his size, strength, how often he uses his body to separate forwards from the puck, and the nasty edge he has to his game. He has decent puck-moving ability but he has pretty good offensive skill for a big defender. Petrovic will jump up into the rush when he senses a chance and flashes good offensive instincts. Petrovic also makes plays in his own end and projects as a tough minutes player.

The Bad: Petrovic's skating is okay for his size, but his mobility is below average. Many scouts question his consistency as well.

Projection: He could be a good second pairing defender.

---

7. Kyle Rau, Right Wing
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 10/24/1992
Age: 20
Height: 5'8''
Weight: 172
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 40 GP, 18 G, 43 P (Univ. of Minnesota-WCHA)
Acquired: Third round, 91st overall in 2011 by Florida

The Good: Rau is a very skilled little guy who had a great freshman season. He is a legit high-end thinker who can show great ability as a puck distributor, but his off-the-puck reads are of equal quality. Rau is always in the right place at the right time and has good defensive awareness. He's also a pretty good puck-handler, showing above-average hands and flashing plus. Rau has a great on-ice work ethic, can be a real pest with his forechecking, and is an effective penalty killer.

The Bad: Rau has fine speed but is not the blazer you'd like him to be at his size. Speaking of his size, he's 5'8',' and despite the fact he showed a fine physical game at the college level, he likely won't have value in that area as a pro.

Projection: He could be a good second line winger.

---

8. Quinton Howden, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: 6th
Date of birth: 01/21/1992
Age: 20
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 185
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 52 GP, 30 G, 65 P (Moose Jaw-WHL)
Acquired: First round, 25th overall in 2010 by Florida

The Good: Howden is a very gifted skater who moves at a top-end level and extremely well for a 6'3'' player as he simply flies after only a couple of strides. Howden is also a great shooter who can score from mid-distance and gets into open spaces well to score. He has good offensive skill, and this year he was creating more with his puck skills and to his teammates. He's a solid defensive winger.

The Bad: Howden has good size but he's not really a player who will bang bodies. Some scouts question his hockey sense and consistency although those elements of his game have improved this season.

Projection: He could be an average second line winger.

---

9. Vincent Trocheck, Center
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 07/11/1993
Age: 20
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 190
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 65 GP, 29 G, 85 P (Saginaw-OHL)
Acquired: Third round, 64th overall in 2011 by Florida

The Good: Trocheck is a very smart two-way player who easily has above-average hockey sense and flashes top-end ability in that area. Despite his size, Trocheck is a great defensive player. He makes a lot of good defensive reads, he's good at faceoffs, and he works hard on the backcheck and on the penalty kill. He's a creative playmaker with good hands and vision who can slow the game down and create from the perimeter and will drive the net for chances. Trocheck is a decent to solid skater and he can play all the forward positions effectively.

The Bad: Trocheck doesn't really have a real weakness aside from his size. Thanks to his intangibles he projects as a pro-average physical player, but his size could be the element that prevents him from doing so.

Projection: He could be a top-six forward.

---

10. Michael Matheson, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 02/27/1994
Age: 18
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 178
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 53 GP, 11 G, 27 P (Dubuque-USHL)
Acquired: First round, 23rd overall in 2012 by Florida

The Good: Matheson is a toolsy defender with a lot of upside. He is a plus skater and puck-mover who can dazzle observers. He moves effortlessly in every direction and accelerates quickly. Matheson can make a crisp, accurate outlet pass, or he can make a move with the puck and hit a teammate through a tight space. He's got good offensive instincts, showing calm play with the puck. He can quarterback a power play well.

The Bad: Matheson's defensive play and physical game are underwhelming and certainly are areas of his game that he needs to address going forward. Production-wise, his USHL season was also not what one would expect from someone with his talent level.

Projection: He could be a good top-four defender.

---

The Next Five

11. Jacob Markstrom, Goaltender: Arguably the top goalie prospect in hockey, Markstrom is a giant in net who is very athletic for his size and was great in the AHL this season but has had trouble staying fully healthy.

12. Colby Robak, Defense: Robak is a skilled, mobile player whose all-around game is steadily coming along.

13. Rasmus Bengtsson, Defense: Bengtsson is a smart player who can defend well and still show some offensive skill as a puck-mover. His skating has improved notably as well since being drafted.

14. Casey Wellman, Right Wing: Wellman is a high-end skater who plays with energy, has a good shot and some skill, too. He has all the tools, but just hasn't been able to take that next step yet.

15. Yaroslav Kosov, Right Wing: Kosov is a 6'3'' forward with speed, skill, and grittiness. Scouts from overseas simply rave about him.

The Sleeper: Alexander Delnov, Left Wing

Delnov is an impressive skater and puck-handler who had a bit of a coming out party at the Under-18 Championships.

---

Florida Panthers Lightning Organizational Top 10

Players 22 or under as of 09/15/2012 or still considered a prospect as defined here.

1. Jonathan Hubderdeau, Left Wing
2.Dmitry Kulikov, Defense
3. Nick Bjugstad, Center
4. Rocco Grimaldi, Center
5. Erik Gudbranson, Defense
6.Corban Knight, Right Wing
7. Drew Shore, Center
8. Alex Petrovic, Defense
9. Kyle Rau, Right Wing
10. Quinton Howden, Left Wing

I'm a big Kulikov fan, and while he still needs to bulk up to become a legit two-way force, he has all the skills to become a top-tier player, an effective tough minutes player, and a top power-play contributor as well. Gudbranson had a bit of a soft landing this season, which is fine and what you expect from a defenseman in the NHL at his age, even a very talented one. He's a fantastic skater with an elite physical game and fine skill. I don't see a potential star, but more of a player who projects as a great #3 or okay #2.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

0 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Top 10 Prospects (08/28)
<< Previous Column
Top 10 Prospects (08/28)
Next Column >>
Top 10 Prospects (09/03)
Next Article >>
Summer Skate (09/01)

RECENTLY AT HOCKEY PROSPECTUS
Annoucements: Where Are The New Articles?
Zamboni Tracks: Who's That Guy? Special Edmo...
Hall Of Fame: My 2014 HHOF Inductees
On The Horizon: Four Nations And Junior "A" ...
A Closer Look: MacArthur-Turris-Ryan Keeping...


MORE BY COREY PRONMAN
2012-09-05 - Top 10 Prospects: Detroit Red Wings
2012-09-04 - Top 10 Prospects: Chicago Blackhawks
2012-09-03 - Top 10 Prospects: San Jose Sharks
2012-08-30 - Top 10 Prospects: Florida Panthers
2012-08-28 - Top 10 Prospects: Washington Capitals
2012-08-27 - Top 10 Prospects: Ottawa Senators
2012-08-23 - Top 10 Prospects: Calgary Flames
More...

MORE TOP 10 PROSPECTS
2012-09-05 - Top 10 Prospects: Detroit Red Wings
2012-09-04 - Top 10 Prospects: Chicago Blackhawks
2012-09-03 - Top 10 Prospects: San Jose Sharks
2012-08-30 - Top 10 Prospects: Florida Panthers
2012-08-28 - Top 10 Prospects: Washington Capitals
2012-08-27 - Top 10 Prospects: Ottawa Senators
2012-08-23 - Top 10 Prospects: Calgary Flames
More...