from Eric Duhatschek of The Athletic,
Draft pedigree doesn’t always translate into NHL success — right away or even at all — but I can’t ever recall a team being able to ice a top power play unit chock-full of so many high picks than the Florida Panthers can this season.
The first unit, in practice, according to George Richards, consists of Jonathan Huberdeau (third overall, 2011); Aleksander Barkov (second overall, in 2013); plus Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett, the first, second and fourth overall choices in 2014.
The first three had NHL success relatively on schedule, the last two took a little longer to find their respective strides. In Bennett’s case, it mostly happened after he landed with the Panthers in a trade deadline deal with Calgary and developed instant chemistry with Huberdeau. Even strength, it looks as if Barkov and Reinhart will get to play together. After that, coach Joel Quenneville has options to mix and match any number of possible candidates, including Anthony Duclair, Carter Verhaeghe and possibly even a youngster such as Owen Tippett eventually in the top six.
The Panthers look as if they’ll be a fun team to watch this year if the goaltending holds up.
And as I ponder that last sentence, I realize, they actually could be more fun to watch if the goaltending doesn’t hold up, because that’ll force them to get into a bunch of old school, run-and-gun shootouts; and they have the talent now to potentially win, even playing that brand of hockey.
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