With this season all but lost for the Florida Panthers, the time has come to turn the team’s focus to the future. While a glimpse of how good coming years will be has been provided by Drew Shore and Jonathan Huberdeau, a flurry of injuries and the way the season has gone have allowed the Panthers to get a lot of their young prospects into the lineup this season.
All told, at least 13 players who spent time in the AHL with the San Antonio Rampage during the lockout have earned at least a one game call-up to the NHL. Panthers regulars Mike Santorelli, Tyson Strachan, Erik Gudbranson and Jacob Markstrom played for the Rampage earlier this season and have all likely earned full-time NHL gigs at this point. Defense has been one of the worst-hit areas on the injury front, which has led to Colby Robak, Nolan Yonkman and Michael Caruso earning promotions. On the offensive side of things Quinton Howden, Jon Rheault, Eric Selleck, Scott Timmins and Greg Rallo have gotten the call as well. Unfortunately, only Robak (one assist) has managed to record a point from the 38 combined games these prospects have appeared in.
Howden is one of the top prospects in the organization, but hasn’t been able to do much when called up. Robak and Selleck have both shown a lack of discipline and faced consequences as a result. Two of the Panthers’ hopes for the future, Kyle Rau and Nick Bjugstad, are the second and third leading scorers for a University of Minnesota team that begins NCAA tournament play tomorrow with the second overall seed.
This season is a lost cause for the Panthers, and they would be well served to play their prospects as much as possible the rest of the season. Hopefully what these players need to be successful is more ice time – something the Panthers can stand to be generous with at this point.