Florida Panthers Top 20 Prospect Report

03-25-2004, 08:06 PM
With the CHL, NCAA and European league seasons into their playoffs and the AHL and NHL soon to follow, The Florida Post re-ranks the top prospects for the Panthers.

1. Raffi Torres
Torres has exploded on to the NHL scene with the Edmonton Oilers this year after a disapointing start to his career with the Islanders. The former top 5 pick has put together a 20 goal season, where he is only one back of the goal scoring lead held by Ryan Smyth. He's only 22 and he's gaining confidence in his offensive side. Big time year for him, which faults him to the top of the rankings.

2. Jeff Carter
When the Flyers selected Carter in the first round last year, a lot was made of it being a reach. Hardly the case now where Carter has exploded on to the prospects scence where he is now considered a legitimate top 25 prospect in the NHL, a ranking that will only rise. He's the full time package and despite the Greyhounds struggles this year in the OHL, Carter's offensive game managed to take hold. An impressive World Junior Championship helped his cause.

3. Pascal Leclaire
A huge bounce back year for Leclaire. His struggles in the AHL last year hurt his stock significantly. But he came back very strong this season after the coaches changed his style and goaltending mechanics a bit. Leclaire has now brought himself back into contention as a top 5 goaltending prospect in the world and a legitimate top 40 prospect.

4. Matthew Stajan
Stajan, like Torres, has become a mainstay in the NHL this season. Stajan has been a solid contributor for the Maple Leafs, despite seing limited ice time. His potential in the NHL may have been a bit underrated because he's looked like a future second line center for sure.

5. Mike Richards
Richards is just a guy who does everything right. He's a solid all around hockey player and he's had a huge 2003-04 season. From leading the Kitchener Rangers to tearing up the World Juniors with Nigel Dawes and Anthony Stewart, Richards has proven he's a top quality prospect.

6. Konstantin Koltsov
The speed demon cracked the NHL full time with the Penguins this year and established himself as an NHL player. Only if he had million dollar hands. But 8 goals so far in the environment he's in isn't to bad really. Definitely a keeper because the potential for greatness is there if his offensive game gains stride.

7. Brent Burns
Definitely a big surprise when he made the Minnesota Wild this year right out of the draft. However he should have been sent back to junior. But he's got great potential, especially in terms of an NHL power forward once he fills out his frame.

8. Doug Lynch
In his first season of professional hockey, Lynch has been tremendous in the AHL for Toronto. He made the AHL all star team and his offensive statistics have been very impressive. The top defensive prospect for the Panthers.

9. Marek Svatos
If only Mr. Svatos could stay healthy. It's been injury after injury so far for Svatos in his professional career. The glimmer of hope being that when he hasn't been injured, he's been incredibly impressive. Made the Avalanche this season after a monsterous pre season, but destroyed himself for the season after only two games. Svatos has the highest pure offensive ceiling of any Panther prospect, he just needs to stay healthy.

10. Jussi Jokinen
Jokinen went through an up and down season in the Sm-Liiga. He started off red hot, was among the leading scorers in the league. He then went through a stretch where he couldn't buy a goal, but finished off hot. He could be brought over to North America next year (if there is one) in order to try and make the Stars roster.

11. Mike Egener
Egener is one mean customer. A tough as nail stay at home defenseman, Egener was a high second round pick of the Lightning. He failed to make the WJC team, but he had a strong year for Calgary of the WHL. Apparently Tampa management considers him their top prospect.

12. Scott Barney
Barney is back. No not that stupid bloody purple dinosaur, but Scott Barney the former top prospect of the Kings who lost 3 years due to back complications. He was ripping up the AHL before the Kings gave him a look and he hasn't looked back since. He's performed very well and has a great chance to break camp with LA next year in a reasonably large offensive role.

13. Yared Hagos
Hagos has potential NHL shut down center written all over him. His offensive potential may not be of a scoring winger, but he's such a smart player, and so good defensively, he managed to make a Swedish national team. He may even be a darkhorse for a World Championship roster spot as one of the three junior player required spots. He should also make the trek to North America and because of his style he's a prime candidate for a roster spot with the Stars.

14. Oliver Setzinger
A total boom or bust prospect (one of the only ones in the organization), Setzinger oozes with offensive talent. Much was expected of him in the SM-Liiga this year after he came to Nashville camp and totally wrecked havoc, but he had a very strange year. Struggled early with Pelicans, he was then cut after mega riffs with the coaching staff. However after catching on again with HPK, he began playing very well. He's been very good in the playoffs so far with 3 goals in 4 games. Hopefully he makes it over to North America next season where his skills can be put on a better display.

15. Karl Stewart
A free agent acquisition by the Thrashers after a solid OHL career, Stewart has become quite a pesky prospect. He brings a lot of energy to the ice and he's had a solid rookie season in the AHL where he's close to cracking 40 points and has well over 100 penalty minutes. If Stewert can hit 40 points, he'll earn the Panthers 1 million dollars from the Mountain Dew endorsement deal.

16. Jens Karlsson
A former first round pick of the Kings, Karlsson's stock just hasn't really risen because of the lack of improvement in his offensive game. However there is still much time and he is expected to come to North American next season where his physical game is much better suited.

17. Dwight Helminen
Helminen may not be big, but he's very quick and what he lacks in size, he makes up for in effort. Helminen was recently named the top defensive forward of the CCHA. He could be a real sleeper to make a good impact on the NHL, as he's got good offensive skills, speed to burn and an evolved defensive game.

18. Derek Meech
A solid, yet unspectacular defenseman in the Red Wings system. Meech is a very smart guy who despite not being huge, should be able to make the NHL. Made the Canadian World Junior team this year and is most known for being Dion Phaneuf's defensive partner in Red Deer.

19. Dany Roussin
Well he's already made the Panthers 1 million dollars richer thanks to him reaching the 100 point plateau in the CHL, which kicks in the Mountain Dew endorsement deal. He's Sidney Crosby's linemate in Rimouski and most see his success as riding on the coattails of Crosby. However he led the CHL in goals scored and is an interesting prospect.

20. Wade Dubielewicz
A college free agent out of Denver, Dubielewicz has come out of nowhere to dominate the AHL this year. His numbers have been consistently sickening and he's one to watch as to whether he can earn an NHL roster spot next season as Rick Dipietro's back up in Long Island.


Matt Koalska
Patrick Ehelechner
Cody McCormick
Brandon Crombeen
Mike Bishai
Neil Komadoski
Mike Stuart
Kenny Smith
Corey Potter

Esteban Santour
Florida Post

03-25-2004, 08:46 PM
Brock while your at it...

Why don't you write up a HFNHL mock draft for the main page?? :teach:

03-25-2004, 11:34 PM
Brock while your at it...

Why don't you write up a HFNHL mock draft for the main page?? :teach:

Sure, when the time comes, I'll write one.