The 31-in-31 Summer Series is an annual event here at DobberProspects! Every day in November we will be bringing you a complete breakdown of a team’s draft and insights into their off-season movements thus far. Following this up, the December 31-in-31 Series will dive into every team’s prospect depth charts with fantasy insights and implications for the upcoming seasons. Check back often, because we plan on filling your hockey withdrawal needs until the season begins!
If you haven’t been keeping close tabs on the Florida Panthers over the off-season, you may have a hard time recognizing them. With just two playoff appearances in 10 years, the club has taken on a significant transformation in recent days, and it began at the top of the pecking order. Following a disappointing “play-in” series defeat, the Panthers announced their split from tenured General Manager, Dale Tallon. After a decade of failed projects and little success, it was time for a sweep – Cue, Bill Zito, former assistant GM for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Hired at the beginning of September, the first-time GM had quite the list of tasks and a small window in which to work with. Sunrise has been starving for success, and to achieve that, it would mean shedding some mid-ranged depth and starting fresh. Luckily, with a few household names making up the top half of the group, the foundation of the club is solid, which will hopefully make the process run smoothly. However, with a list of pending UFA’s, a few less-than-stellar contracts, and a disgruntled prospect farm, turning this team around will take both craft and cunning.
He would get to work immediately, shedding one of the largest eyesores on the payroll in Mike Matheson. Zito was able to flip the underperforming defender, with the addition of Colton Sceviour, to the Pittsburg Penguins in exchange for grizzled veteran, and two-time cup champ, Patric Hornqvist. They also let go of another defender in Josh Brown, a move in which they added an additional fourth-round pick for the upcoming draft. While it was just two deals, these transactions set the tone and acted as a precursor to a string of decisions yet to come over the next two weeks. But first, with nine picks over the weekend, it was time to draft.
Round One, 12th Overall – Anton Lundell, C
Make no mistake about it, Anton Lundell, especially in the 12-hole, is an incredibly spicy pick. Depending on whose rankings you follow, his draft projection ran anywhere from a top-five, all the way through the mid-first round. However, there was one consensus that was set in stone – he is a bonafide NHL player.
At 19, Lundell carries all the necessary tools to provide instant gratification for this Panthers line-up. He is an incredibly responsible centerman, who plays the game with confidence in all three zones. He plays a “Selke” trophy style, while still holding sneaky offensive abilities. I use the word sneaky, as his offensive potential was one of his (only) knocks, as it was assumed to be capped in and around the 60 point benchmark. However, if his first two years in Liiga action have given us any indication, those concerns are quickly fading into the wind.
Last season, as an 18-year-old, he made his professional debut with HIFK Helsinki and transitioned to the top ranks with pure ease. He posted 10 goals and 28 points through 48 games, finishing second among U20 players. He has since doubled down on those totals and is currently firing at a point-per-game clip, with eight goals (second in the league) and 12 points in his sophomore campaign.
This includes a four-goal effort: