Welcome to the August 2019 edition of the DobberProspects 31-in-31 Series! This month, we will be diving into the depth of each organization, looking at their recent graduates, risers, fallers and Top 20 prospects. Let’s dive in!
After spending the 2018-19 season ripping up the Liiga alongside fellow league rookie Rasmus Kupari, Aleksi Heponiemi signed his entry-level deal with the Florida Panthers in the offseason. There is a top-nine roster spot obtainable for the taking if he impresses at training camp. Being drafted as a center and making the transition to the wing this past season, Heponiemi provides versatility to play all three forward positions if need be. It would also be fitting that he play on the wing with another Finnish center in Henrik Borgstrom. If he does not make the roster, the AHL would make a great second option where he can readjust to the smaller ice surface and be available for a call up.
Owen Tippett has continued to show he can be an elite scoring threat at the junior level. After the disappointment of not making the team last season and being sent back to the OHL, the pressure is on for him to impress this turn around. The right-side continues to get deeper in the Panthers prospect pool and players such as Aleksi Heponiemi, Serron Noel and Grigori Denisenko are knocking on the doorstep. If Tippett is close but needs more seasoning against professional competition, he is eligible to play for Springfield this season and it could benefit greatly.
Sam Montembeault was leaned on heavily during the month of March once called up by the Cats. Inconsistent goaltending, whether through injury or poor play, led to his opportunity to run with the starting job. Getting underway with a four-game winning streak was great, but the cracks did begin to show when the dust settled at the end of the season and he had a 3.05 GAA and 0.894 Sv%. The drafting of Spencer Knight and the free-agency acquisition Sergei Bobrovski does put Montembeault’s future up in the air as he will either have the choice to become the backup or be traded.
Dryden Hunt, Jayce Hawryluk and Juho Lammikko have all graduated to the big club after having a cup of tea in the league this past season. There are still a few spots available in the Panthers bottom-six and each of these players would bring a lot of versatility.
Ryan Bednard was spectacular this past season at Bowling Green State University, racking up 20 wins (1.77 GAA & 0.927 Sv%) in 32 games played. The 6’5” goaltender will be heading to Springfield this fall and look to continue to work on his game against professional competition.
Aleksi Heponiemi, RW
The Tampere native continued to prove his critics wrong this past season when he tallied 46 points (16 goals & 30 assists) in 50 Liiga games. As a rookie against men, Heponiemi now holds 14th place in U20 scoring with Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Kristian Vesalainen directly behind him. Not only was he a riser in the Panthers system, he also jumped up from #39 to #19 on Scott Wheeler’s “Top 50 Drafted NHL Prospects Ranking.” There is still a lot of room for the versatile forward’s ceiling to grow, especially with the chance to make the big club out of training camp and joining a core that includes fellow countrymen in Sasha Barkov and Henrik Borgstrom.
Serron Noel, RW
The 6’5” winger brings both a high level of skill and a physical edge which makes him highly valuable to the Panthers who are looking to fill spots in the bottom-six of their roster. Although that may not happen this season, putting up 81 points (34 goals & 47 assists) in 68 games – a 28-point improvement from his draft eligible season – Noel is able to elevate his offensive ceiling. Having to extend Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman, as well as taking on a higher hit from Scott Darling’s buyout next season, it will prove that ELC contracts such as Noel’s are bound to be crucial to the success of the Florida Panthers.
Dryden Hunt, LW
The undrafted forward of the Moose Jaw Warriors has continued his ascent ever since turning pro and could make the Florida Panthers roster this upcoming season. Having a taste of the NHL last year, Hunt looked to fit in well in a bottom-six role. Playing the type of hard-hitting game that then head-coach Bob Boughner was preaching, He energized the team with his high revving engine. The Cranbrook native should prove to be a skilled/grinding forward who can play up the line up if there is an injury that affects the club.
Maxim Mamin, RW
After seemingly making the team after the 2017-18 season, the Moscow native became frustrated when he was placed on the fourth line and averaged approximately seven minutes of ice time per game in his seven games played. During this time, Mamin was unable to score and was forced to play more of a power forward/grinding game. This led to his departure and a loan to his home-team of CSKA Moscow, where he had three points (one goal and two assists) in 25 games. Mamin will look to bounce back next season playing in the KHL.
Logan Hutsko, RW
The Boston College sophomore dropped due to a few unfortunate scenarios. The first is the Panthers’ ever-growing depth on the right wing which comprises of Owen Tippett, Aleksi Heponiemi and Serron Noel. The second is his injury history which includes the incident of March 23rd where he got tangled with an opposing defender and hit his head hard off the ice leading to a concussion. Going back to college in the fall, Hutsko will have to be healthy to continue to develop into the playmaker that the Panthers expected when they drafted him.
Sam Montembeault, G
Similar to Hutsko, Montembeault has become a victim of circumstance with the additions that were made by the Panthers this offseason. Adding Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight to the system removed a lot of fantasy value for the 6’3” netminder. Having to back up this upcoming season, Montembeault is projected to get approximately 15-20 games. He is also unlikely to have a future with the organization as their “franchise-type goaltender“ as per Dale Tallon, is coming up in their pipeline.
Prospect Depth Chart
Below are the positional depth charts sorted by league that they are projected to play in:
Top 20 Fantasy Rankings
- Owen Tippett, RW
- Aleksi Heponiemi, RW
- Spencer Knight, G
- Grigori Denisenko, LW
- Serron Noel, RW
- Max Gildon, D
- Denis Malgin, RW
- Vladislav Kolyachonok, D
- Jayce Hawryluk, RW
- Dryden Hunt, LW
- Sam Montembeault, G
- Logan Hutsko, RW
- Cole Schwindt, C
- Juho Lammikko, C
- Owen Lindmark, C
- Henrik Rybinski, LW
- Maxim Mamin, RW
- Riley Stillman, D
- Brady Keeper, D
- Ryan Bednard, G
Reminder that the 2019-20 Fantasy Hockey Guide is available now, and if you’re serious about being competitive in your pools no matter how deep, it is an absolute must-read:
Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed what you read and want to keep track of your Florida Panthers prospects, follow me on Twitter @MaximeDOTelllier