Florida Panthers 2021 Early Draft Review
For each pick / round something to remember is when I mention that these are some of the players targeted, they are the players targeted based on where they were selected in the NHL draft, their rankings, and research completed before the DCHL draft.
Owen Power, Mathew Berniers and William Eklund were the top 3 players in my rankings, but there was no way I would have a shot at them, therefore were not targeted by Panthers management.
Did they get every player they wanted / targeted, absolutely not! Otherwise, a player like Jesper Wallsted would be a Florida Panther right now!
But Panthers management are really happy with the crop of draft pick selected in the 2021 DCHL draft.
Listed below are the players selected, the number selected in draft, comments from different draft expects and a player or 2 that were also considered at that spot.
#15 Fedor Svechkov, C (Nobody)
Svechkov was the guy Panthers management was targeting in the 1st round, they hoped he would be available at 19, but when they had the opportunity to acquire #15 in the Josi trade they closed the deal. Florida would have drafted him in the top 10 as well.
The biggest knock on Svechkov is that his offence might not be good enough for a top 6 C in the NHL. However, anytime he played against players in his own age group he’s been dominant offensively!
“One of the best two-way forwards in the draft. Svechkov is great in transition, excellent in his own end, and has some offensive tools that are on the verge of really popping. Playing on a team lacking other talents, Svechkov is often on an island but still drives good results.” Tony Ferrari, Dobber prospects
#23 - Corson Ceulemans, RHD (Chas Lucius, Isak Rosen)
Knowing they had no shot at the top 4 D of this draft, Ceulemans and Lambos were defensemen targeted by Florida going into the draft and with Lambos gone at 16, Ceulemans was the guy Florida selected and the guy they were going to select at 19 before trading back to 23 and acquiring #75.
“Ceulemans is a much rawer player than Makar was at his age, which has some scouts concerned over his long-term potential. Defensive issues and play off the puck have many worried that he won’t be able to transition well into the professional ranks. He has the potential to become a top-pairing offensive, rushing defenseman, but at this point, is more likely to become a middle-pairing defender who can run a power play.” , Hockey Writers
#24 – Oskar Olausson, W (Brenna Othmann)
Florida was extremely happy to see him available at 24, although he went to 28th in the NHL draft there was a very good chance that he might be selected inside the top 20’s. Panthers management see top 6 forward potential in Olausson in the near future.
“Very confident with his skill. Excellent puck skills. Very agile and quick, his mind works fast to take advantage of opportunities. He adds an exciting flair with his play.”- Craig Button, TSN
“With his shot and speed, Olausson does have the potential to be a serviceable top-six forward. He could be a major factor in a second line role. Add in his ability to play on the power play and on the penalty kill makes him a valuable asset. If he continues to round out his game and still be an offensive threat, there’s no doubt that he can be a major difference maker.” , Hockey Writers
#29 – Aatu Raty, C (Nobody)
This pick was acquired with Raty in mind and if a player dropped that wasn’t expected to drop. Since there was no player that dropped that was ahead of Raty on the Florida list, they stuck with the plan to draft Raty with the 29th pick.
Raty was considered a top 5 pick a year ago, he didn’t have a good year and dropped all the way to 52 in the NHL draft. At the WJHC summer showcase after the NHL draft was held Raty was the best forward for team Finland.
You never want to base your evaluation of a player solely on a tournament but, the summer showcase is an opportunity for players to secure their spot on the team and Raty did everything he needed to get his spot back on team Finland.
“A play-driving offensive center who plays a solid 200-foot game. A dual-threat because he can both make plays and finish them. Great skating ability combined with high-end puck-skills makes him a threat all over the ice. Needs to work on his consistency and discipline. Projects to become a very good number one center. A legitimate threat to go first overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.” Jokke Nevalainen, Dobber Prospect
# 41 - Zack Ostapchuk (Logan Stankoven)
The Panthers GM has had Ostapchuk on his list for over a year. He was considered a sleeper that would be drafted in the 3rd or 4th round until Ottawa drafted him at the top of the 2nd round in the NHL draft.
That changed the plans for Panthers Management targeting Ostapchuk at 41. Stankovan was considered but the question is how high should you draft a 6’3”, 200 lbs forward that can skate and has good hands?
We see a lot of Max Pacioretty in Ostapchuk said the Panthers GM.
“I’d just like to say that among WHL forwards long term, I think Ostapchuk has about as high of potential as anyone. His puck control abilities are truly fantastic in small space. He can coral a loose puck and redirect it to open ice or away from pressure. It’s very tough to find that level of finesse with someone his size”. – Joel Henderson, FC Hockey
# 61 - Matthew Knies (Ben Roger)
The Panthers traded for 61 with the idea to draft a defenseman, but when all the defenseman Florida was targeting were gone by the time their pick came around the decision was between Ben Rogers and Mathew Knies.
The decision to draft Knies over Rogers came down to drafting potential over need. Again drafting a 6’3”, 210 Lbs winger that can skate and score was too good to pass.
“Knies isn’t a guy who is going to go end to end a lot, but he’s a very intelligent forward with size. He can find seams from the perimeter but also has the hard elements in his game to use his frame to win battles and get to the middle third of the offensive zone. His average footspeed is the main drawback in his game in terms of projecting to the NHL level.” Corey Pronman, The Athletic.
# 75 - Oliver Johansson (Tristan Lennox)
To be honest this guy wasn’t on the Panthers GM radar until he was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the NHL draft.
Again, he is a forward with size as the Panthers continued to add to their complement of big young forwards, but, at the end of the day, he will be a project.
Deciding between Lennox and Johansson was a tough and the belief in Ottawa Senators Head Scout Trent Mann tipped the scale in Johansson’s favor. (In Trent we trust!)
# 110 - Vladislav Lukashevich (Ethan Del Mastro, Cole Jordan)
With its two 4th round picks Florida concentrated on drafting a defenceman and a goalie since Del Mastro and Lukashevich were drafted in the 4th round and Kirill Gerasimyuk the goalie drafted and targeted by Panthers management.
Although he was drafted at pick 120 in the NHL draft, prior to the NHL draft Lukashevich was often ranked in the 2nd and 3rd round. Panthers management felt good getting him at pick 110.
“His defensive play is very good, simply from doing all the little things right. He leads with his stick and has great positioning.
He plays a very mature game, which can be seen not only in his defensive game, but his decision making, processing, and skating.” Josh Bell, FC Hockey.
# 124 - Kirill Gerasimyuk (Aku Koskenvuo, Semyon Vyazovoy)
Even if the Panthers would have drafted one of Wallstedt, Cossa, Gaudreau or Lennox they would still have drafted Gerasimyuk with this pick. Although he still needs development which might take 4 or 5 years the potential is worth it.
“Gerasimyuk is one of the more dynamic goaltenders I’ve come across in this class and one of the more unique stylistically. His skating is at a high level, and he is extremely agile moving laterally and when making adjustments, showing explosiveness off of his push leg and the edge work to stay controlled when he’s on his feet.
The inconsistencies right now is that he does have lapses in his game where he can give up poor goals and rebouds by playing more complex than he needs to if he were to get on his angles and be less fidgety.
Lots of areas to work on but lots of tools to work with. The time for adjustment will come if he wants to be a consistent NHLer. Justin Froese, FC Hockey.