Saturday, August 5, 2017

31 Teams in 31 Days - Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers have drafted very well from the OHL in recent years. Lots of talent on their roster from the league.

1. Owen Tippett - Mississauga Steelheads
If having one of the league's best shooters in Adam Mascherin wasn't enough, the Panthers went and drafted Owen Tippett this year in the first round. Tippett has everything you want in a potential 30 goal scoring winger; size, speed, and...that shot. Tippett can and will shoot from anywhere on the ice. His wrister has such great velocity and his quick release still catches goalies off guard even though they expect it. Since he's come into the league, his two-way play has most definitely improved. But it's not perfect. There are other parts of his game that need work too. Would love to see him score more easy goals, within a few feet of the crease and in order to do that, he needs to use his size to drive the middle of the ice more consistently. I think his vision and ability to utilize his teammates also needs to improve, as he can be prone to tunnel vision. As long as you believe a lack of hockey sense is NOT the culprit, than these are all things which can be improved. There's been a lot of talk lately about Tippett potentially making Florida's roster next year, but I just don't think he's ready. Want to see him back in the OHL to improve on the areas I mentioned above. Mississauga will be great again and he'll have a chance to make a deep playoff run and play for Team Canada at the WJC's. If back in the OHL, I think he's a 50 goal scorer and a 90+ point player.

2. Adam Mascherin - Kitchener Rangers
Mascherin had an excellent draft +1 season with Kitchener this year. Firstly, his skating looked to have become more explosive this year and was definitely noticeable as he was quicker to loose pucks and more effective off the rush. But the biggest difference for me was the increased intensity level away from the puck and the overall difference in ability to maintain puck possession. It's obvious that he put in the work in the offseason to add strength. Seeing him battle consistently along the boards to secure and maintain possession was something that was lacking in his draft year. Of course, he's still got that shot which is one of the league's best. So why only 35 goals? I think one of the reasons for that is similar to Tippett. Needs to find himself in position to score more easy goals near the crease and look to drive the net without the puck. I think his two-way game is something that still needs to continue to improve too. But, again, a great year for Mascherin. Next year he'll return to Kitchener who should be a solid team. I think he cracks the 100 point mark yet again, but this time does it with 45+ goals.

3. Riley Stillman - Oshawa Generals
Might be a bit of a surprise that I've got Stillman ranked ahead of Ang (I actually really like both players), but I feel as though Stillman is one of the most underrated prospects around. He just screams pro defender to me and I think he had a great year for the Generals. Was a go to player in all situations for Oshawa and saw a ton of minutes for them, especially after the Mitchell Vande Sompel trade (was fantastic in the playoffs). Stillman's reads in the defensive end really improved this year IMO, and when paired with his penchant for the big hit, it made him a terrific asset in his own end. His mobility is also an asset at both ends, although he still seems a tad shy when it comes to trying to skate deep into the offensive end. He's got a big point shot and I'd love to see him use it more next year too. Could see first unit powerplay time so that could help him breakout. I think the Panthers have a good one on their hands. Stillman will return to Oshawa where the Generals will look to be the best in the Eastern Conference. I see a breakout season on the horizon, with 45+ points and continued strong defensive play.

4. Jonathan Ang - Peterborough Petes
Still like Ang's game a lot, even if I'm not extremely confident in saying his game progressed massively this year. I would say the biggest difference we saw was increased consistency away from the puck, and an increased intensity level. Ang has really emerged as a tenacious two-way forward who looks to use his speed to be a pest at both ends. And with added strength, he was more effective at winning those loose puck battles he's often first to. And speaking of his speed, it's no secret that Ang is one of the OHL's best skaters. Lightning quick. Also love the way he drives the net, with and without the puck. Ang was used primarily on the wing this year in Peterborough and I think that's a smart decision and where he'll end up as a pro player too. Moving forward, I'd like to see Ang use his teammates a little better. Has a tendency to overhandle the puck a bit as he attempts to use his speed to create. Also would like to see him improve the velocity of his shot and be more aggressive in shooting the puck. He'll return to Peterborough next year where he'll be a go to offensive weapon and should be a lock to hit the point per game mark for the first time in his OHL career. Peterborough is possibly the cream of the crop in the East and I see him with around 75+ points.

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