The 2013 season has been an absolutely miserable one for the Florida Panthers. They’re heading towards the no. 1 pick in this summer’s draft at an alarming rate. Yet, there is plenty of reason for optimism down on South Beach, even if they rank near the bottom of the league in just about everything.
This is a team with one of the deeper systems in the entire NHL. Next year will bring not only a completely healthy roster, but we’ll be seeing some of this young talent coming up through the ranks making their respective debuts with the Panthers.
We already know about Jonathan Huberdeau. He’s been the league’s best rookie, as far as the pure numbers go. He could very well run away with the Calder Trophy later on this year.
While Huberdeau is the future superstar that will get most of the credit, there are others both currently on this team and in the system. Drew Shore is a player that has shown some pretty serious potential in his time with the club this season, his first in the league.
Then there’s Nick Bjugstad, who is set to make his debut with the club this weekend, having just signed an entry-level deal after finishing his season at the University of Minnesota. He’s a massive forward that projects as either a top line or a number two center for the Cats.
Looking at the blue line, you have Dmitri Kulikov and Erik Gudbranson, both who already have a couple of years of experience under their belt. Not to mention the recently acquired T.J. Brennan. Don’t forget about Jacob Markstrom between the pipes either, as he’s starting to look like the real deal as a ‘goaltender of the future’.
The bottom line for the Panthers is that while this season may seem like a lost cause, because it actually is, there is plenty of reason to be excited for the future. There will be a time when they’ll have to worry about retaining these players long term, if they fulfill their potential and earn larger contracts. But for now, the future is very bright for this organization.