The Florida Panthers’ 2010 NHL Draft was set to be a gamechanger for the franchise. They had 13 picks, with three in the first round and six in the top-60. Here’s a look at how these picks turn out.
First Round Was a Rough Go
The Panthers’ first pick was a dud, choosing hard-nosed defenseman Erik Gudbranson third overall, after Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. He never really dominated statistically in junior. His best season before being drafted was two goals and 23 points in 41 games played, but he was considered a valuable piece due to his big frame and gritty game style.
Unfortunately, this pick proved to be terrible for Florida, as Gudbranson had just 43 points and a -9.8 goals above replacement (GAR) in 309 games with the organization. His physical play never really made up for his terrible offensive and defensive instincts.
Gudbranson is now with the Ottawa Senators after stints with the Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks. He is still struggling to find his game, with three points and a -2.9 GAR through 24 games this season.
The Panthers’ next first-round choice was not as bad and would have likely panned out if not for injuries. That pick is Nick Bjugstad at 19th overall.
Bjugstad was coming off of a 29-goal, 60-point season through 25 games with Blaine High School before going to the NCAA and tearing up the competition there as well. He was all but confirmed to become the next second-line centreman for Florida, but it did not turn out that way.
He had 191 points through 394 games in Florida, with his best season coming in 2017-18 when he had 49 points in a full season. Unfortunately, however, injuries and his inability to play physically led to him being traded to Pittsburgh along with Jared McCann for Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan & draft stock. He has since been flipped to the Minnesota Wild for a seventh-round pick, and is still playing there to this day.
The final first round pick by the Panthers was Quinton Howden, who was chosen at 25th overall. He was coming off of a point-per-game season, with 65 points in 65 games played with the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Western Hockey League.
However, Howden never translated this success to the NHL, as he had just 17 points and a measly 0.01 wins above replacement (WAR) in 92 games with Florida before joining the Winnipeg Jets in free agency and playing just five games there. His career was the definition of average, and he now plays with the Malmo Redhawks of the Swedish Hockey League and has spent the last four seasons playing overseas.
Panthers Second Round Was Even Worse
If you thought the first round was rough, here’s a look at the second round, when the team chose John McFarland (33rd overall), Alexander Petrovic (36th overall), and Connor Brickley (50th overall). This trio really disappointed, playing a total of 280 games with the Panthers, which sounds somewhat decent until you realize that 254 of those were from Petrovic, while the other two players combined for 26 games.
Petrovic was an odd player due to his inconsistency. Some seasons he was a great defensive defenseman, but in other years he was abysmal all over the ice. He finished his tenure with the team with 49 points and a -2.00 GAR before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers for Chris Thorburn and a third-round pick. He later signed short-term deals with the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames, and he is now playing for the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League.
McFarland, 28, has since retired from professional hockey after stints in the LIIGA, Swiss League, AHL and ECHL. Brickley, 29, is still playing, with 14 games with the New York Rangers last season and now with Salzburg EC in Austria.
3 Misses on 4 Picks in the Third & Fourth Rounds
The Panthers had four picks in the third and fourth rounds, most of whom did not become huge.
Joe Basaraba, drafted 69th overall, never played more than 22 AHL games, and spent most of his career in the ECHL before going to England in the EIHL. He last played in 2019-20, splitting his season between the ECHL and the Slovakian League.
Sam Brittain was chosen by Florida 92nd overall and was a pretty solid goaltending prospect. Coming off of a disappointing year in the AJHL, which dropped his stock, he went on to dominate in the NCAA. However, he never put up the same numbers as a professional, bouncing between the AHL and ECHL until he retired in 2017-18.
Right after Brittain, the Panthers chose Ben Gallacher 93rd overall. Not much to say about him, as he retired after four disappointing college seasons in 2015-16.
Here’s the one “gem”. The Panthers chose Joonas Donskoi 99th overall. The reason for the quotations is that Donskoi never played a game in Florida. Management never signed him, and he went to the San Jose Sharks. He now plays with Colorado Avalanche. Losing him has proven to be a terrible move, as he has put up 167 points and an amazing 38.4 GAR through 367 games in his career. He could’ve been a great top-nine forward for the Panthers.
Interesting Final 3 Picks
Another heartbreaking pick for Florida came at 123rd overall, when they chose Zach Hyman.
Hyman also never signed in Florida and was traded in 2015 to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Greg McKegg. Fast forward six years, and he has solidified himself as a top net-front presence in the league, earning top-six minutes with Auston Matthews and John Tavares in Toronto, where he has 165 points and a 14.4 GAR through 323 games.
Corey Durocher was the Panthers’ next pick at 153rd overall. The Ottawa native never made it out of the ECHL after his NCAA years and played his final season with the Allen Americans in 2019-20.
R.J. Boyd was Florida’s final pick at 183rd overall. The defender was probably the worst of the 13 drafted and retired after the 2014-15 season, just one game into his ECHL career.
A Draft to Forget
Only three draftees from the 2010 Draft class played over 100 games in Florida, and Bjugstad is the only one who made a positive impact. I think it’s safe to say that the Panthers and then-general manager Dale Tallon want to forget this draft ever happened.
PIT Penguins Writer THW. Instagram: puckempire. Formerly a Florida Panthers writer.