It’s no secret the Florida Panthers were in need of a center and a guy who can help get the puck in the net. They missed out on Nathan MacKinnon as Colorado’s asking price to trade up to the No. 1 pick was far too high.
Instead of drafting the next best guy available in Seth Jones, the Panthers opted to not draft another defenseman to add to their heavily stacked blue line. Though they did proceed to use four of their eight picks on defensemen, they selected Aleksander Barkov from Finland, who can easily be the team’s No. 1 center of the future if he continues to work hard.
Barkov is one of the most highly touted draft prospects to come from Finland and brings Joe Thornton-like size and playmaking abilities. At 6’2″ 209 pounds, Barkov has slick puck-handling and brings a solid addition to both sides of the puck. Soon enough, Barkov will fit in as the team’s first line center.
Their second round selection, Ian McCoshen, was a snag at No. 31 as he was ranked by many as a first-round talent. He logged 44 points as a defenseman in the USHL during his 2012-13 season in just 53 games. Factor in his +35 rating, and the Panthers add some potential offensive firepower to go along with steady defensive play. While the Panthers are already deep on defense, they couldn’t pass up on another defender in McCoshen as he fell to their laps in round two.
Evan Cowley is a solid goaltender whom they drafted in the fourth round and can one day start in net for the team. He brings prototypical size at 6’4″ 190 pounds and is only 18 years old. He’s raw talent for now, but could soon be the future in net for the Panthers.
||ALEKSANDER BARKOV||C||FIN||6′ 3″||209|
||IAN MCCOSHEN||D||USA||6′ 2″||205|
||EVAN COWLEY||G||CAN||6′ 3″||182|
||MICHAEL DOWNING||D||USA||6′ 2″||192|
||MATT BUCKLES||C||CAN||6′ 1″||205|
||CHRISTOPHER CLAPPERTON||L||CAN||5′ 9″||174|
||JOSHUA BROWN||D||CAN||6′ 5″||213|
||MACKENZIE WEEGAR||D||CAN||5′ 11″||183|
Overall grade: A-