NHL Entry Draft Preview: No.3 Overall, Florida Panthers

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NHL Entry Draft Preview: No.3 Overall, Florida Panthers

While the debate rages on over Tyler Seguin and Talyor Hall, as to who will be the No. 1 selection in the 2010 NHL Entry draft, lets consider who might very well be the “next top 10” after these players.

The next ten teams to select after Edmonton and Boston are Florida, Columbus, New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricances, Atlanta Thrashers, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers, Dallas Stars, Anaheim Ducks, and the Phoenix Coyotes thanks in part to a previous deal made with the Calgary Flames.

This edition of the Entry Draft is shaping up to a potentially interesting one in terms of the teams involved in these 10 spots.

Florida, Atlanta and Tampa Bay have new General Managers in place, while Columbus, Tampa Bay and Atlanta are all in need of Head Coaches and staff.

While Central Scouting and International Scouting Service have produced their rankings for North American and European skaters and goaltenders, all NHL teams have their own scouting and management staffs working hard on what scenarios could come into play here during the draft.

From all accounts, this could be a deep draft and a draft where many deals are made.

The salary cap has been in place for five years now, and does not appearing to be leaving any time soon. The process of how each NHL team charts prospects and drafts them is contingent on the amount of players under contract, the quality of their farm systems and free agents that might be or not be readily available.

Let's take a look at how things may unfold on June 25 in Los Angeles concerning the No. 3 to No. 13 draft spots.

We are taking into account current rosters, farm system and cap space into consideration here with our 2010 Entry draft selections. Clearly every NHL GM is doing the same. With the salary cap team are looking for value and players who can enter the league and play, contribute and be economical. The basis of the entry level contract and bonus system.

 

Selecting third overall: Florida Panthers

If you could look from the inside looking out, it must seem frustrating for the Florida Panthers. They have had some tough luck lately and granted, the team is full of young players that should be providing more.

Head coach Peter DeBoer now has Dale Tallon to work with and for the first time since being hired, DeBoer and his staff have a bona fide NHL GM working above him. Jacques Martin is a coach first and Randy Sexton did a very good job guiding the ship. He was able to get a second round draft pick from the Montreal Canadiens for Dominic Moore, who would have been an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Not bad at all.

Team

The Panthers have 17 players under contract for next season with a payroll between $40-44 million. Restricted free agents of note are Greg Campbell, Jason Garrison. and Nick Tarnasky; Steve MacIntrye and Craig Weller, both unrestricted free agents are unlikely to be resigned.

Needs

The club is thin on the blueline where Jason Garrison saw some time this season due to injuries, including rookie Dmitry Kulikov. Former GM Sexton moved out Dennis Seidenberg to Boston, and Jordan Leopold to Pittsburgh around the trade deadline last March.

The Panthers have Bryan McCabe, Keith Ballard, Bryan Allen, Kulikov and Garrison on the back end and prospects Keaton Ellerby, Clay Wilson and Mathieu Roy are either going to be ready or the Panthers will need to acquire another defenseman to complete their top-six.

Players to move

The Panthers are quietly becoming solid in goal with the recent signing of swedish netminder Jacob Markstrom to add to their stable of Tomas Vokoun and Scott Clemmemsen.

Alexander Salak had a good development year in Rochester and seen a few NHL games along the way. Rumours of Vokoun and his $6.3 million contract being dealt are heating up once again. Vokoun will be an unrestricted free agent after 2010-11 season.

Other players entering the last year of their deals are Cory Stillman, Radek Dvorek and Bryan McCabe. All arguably part of the core here in Florida.

Thought process

The Panthers have young players in key playing positions now that they hope will grow over the course of the season. They have cap room, but are not really willing got take on more salary and that comes right from the team owners lips.

The farm in Rochester has some good prospects, but many are at least a year or two away from even competing for a NHL job. New GM Tallon could be forced to try and make a deal and move this pick and try to solve some of these “gap” issues.

The Panthers have three more picks in the second round of this draft, and that could allow them to package something together to get another defenseman and maybe another scoring winger.

The Florida management will have to make a decision on Jason Garrison, Keaton Ellerby, and/or Clay Wilson to be able to provide some value down the road in the event they trade this pick.

What they might do

Since Dale Tallon took over, the idea of trading this pick is a definite possibility. Don't be surprised if the Panthers trade up to select one of either Hall or Seguin and make a deal with Boston or Edmonton.

There is interest right now in moving this pick for an established in-their-prime defenseman. However, other assets would have to be included and Tallon hasn't made all of his team roster decisions yet and would like error on the side of caution rather than trade away a diamond in the rough prospect.

It may be more realistic to trade down with someone like the New York Islanders or Atlanta who have some young established prospects who are poised to become everyday NHL defenseman.

What they will do

Tallon and company could very well select one of Cam Fowler, Erik Gudbranson or even take a chance and select Derek Forbort. This club needs help on the back end and there are five defenseman rated in the top 10 North American rankings provided by Central Scouting.

If that is any indication, there should be at least one or two defenseman who could be selected to help the Panthers on their back end for some time to come.

My hunch is that they will keep the pick and select Erik Gudbranson from the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League.

McCabe is 35 years old, and the remaining core of Ballard and Allen averages 27 years old. With Kulikov only 18 years old and playing heavy minutes on the powerplay, it will be hard for Tallon to select Fowler or Forbort if he requires this pick to play this year.

If he wanted to add another young defenseman, Gudbranson brings a physical edge that could rapidly advance his development by playing another season in Kingston or have a chance in October with the Panthers.

We will have to wait and see what the Panthers do.

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