After one of their most successful seasons in franchise history, the Florida Panthers find themselves under pressure to repeat their success, especially with captain Aleksander Barkov set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2021-22 season and Jonathan Huberdeau’s contract expiring the next offseason.
Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide
With both of those players possibly going from team-friendly deals to two very expensive contracts, general manager Bill Zito needs to hit on his draft picks now more than ever. Once those contracts are signed, he will need to supplement the lineup with young talent on cheap entry-level contracts. With that being said…
With the 23rd pick of the 2021 THW NHL Mock Draft, the Florida Panthers are proud to select Logan Stankoven from the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL.
What Stankoven Brings to the Panthers
If developed the right way, Stankoven can become yet another Barkov-style player who is dominant on both sides of the ice. Despite only playing six games during his draft year, with the WHL season as a whole ending after just 24 games and canceling the playoffs, he still managed to impress this season. In that short amount of time he played, Stankoven scored seven goals and 10 points while also scoring four goals and eight points in seven games for Canada’s U18 team.
Stankoven has a good track record over his junior career, scoring 29 goals and 48 points in his first 59 WHL games and putting up an astounding 49 goals and 101 points in 38 games at the AAA level with the U18 Thompson Blazers. With as fierce of a motor as he has, Stankoven has the tools to be this same player at the NHL level.
He is a very swift skater who isn’t afraid of going to the dirty areas. He might be 5-foot-8, 170 pounds, but his motor and work ethic makes up for his lack of size, giving him the strength to push past defenders and score goals in those dirty areas.
On the defensive end, he has the Hockey IQ to break up the passing lanes and the strength at his size to body the opposition off of the puck. His work ethic plays a huge role in his two-way play, and if he keeps that same work ethic, he could become one of the most prolific two-way forwards in the NHL in a few years.
At the 23rd overall selection, the draft board was starting to become thin, especially with Aatu Raty being selected 20th by the Boston Bruins and Carson Lambos being selected by the Detroit Red Wings with the 22nd overall pick. While Stankoven remained at the top of my draft board following those selections, there were two other names I had in mind before deciding on the Kamloops native.
The first of the two options was Franceso Pinelli, a crafty playmaker who can use his 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame to become a force offensively. In 13 games on loan with Slovenia’s HDD Jesenice, he scored five goals and 11 assists. The thing that puts Stankoven over Pinelli, however, is Stankoven’s defensive IQ, as he could fill roles as both a prolific scorer and a reliable penalty killer.
The second of the two options was Daniil Chayka, a solid defensive defenseman who can use his reach to deny passing lanes and has the footwork to close off space. He proved that he could contribute offensively at the OHL level, scoring 11 goals and 34 points in 56 games in his final season with the Guelph Storm, but his numbers took a hit since returning to Russia. In 26 total games, he scored just two goals and seven points overseas. With gap control being an issue for Chayka, which can be an issue where many forwards can get past him, Stankoven’s refined two-way game and defensive IQ make him the easy choice.
Colby Guy is a writer for the Florida Panthers department here at THW. He’s a senior at Florida Atlantic University and currently serves as a social media manager and photographer for FAU Owls Nest. Previously, Colby has written for FanSided as a New York Islanders, Florida Panthers, and Nashville Predators writer. He also served as Editor-In-Chief for FAU’s University Press.