Top prospects for Florida Panthers

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NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams from Nov. 16-Dec. 16. Today, the top five prospects for the Florida Panthers, according to NHL.com.

 

[Panthers 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Behind the Numbers | Fantasy breakdown]

 

1. Spencer Knight, G

How acquired: Selected with No. 13 pick in 2019 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Boston College (NCAA): 33 GP, 23-8-2, 1.97 GAA, .931 SV%

The first goalie selected at the 2019 NHL Draft, Knight (6-foot-3, 192 pounds) shined during his freshman season at Boston College, where he was tied for third among NCAA goalies with five shutouts and was one of five finalists for the Mike Richter Award, given to the top NCAA goalie.

The 19-year-old had a 2.49 goals-against average and .913 save percentage in four games for the United States at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.

“A really good season from top to bottom,” Knight told the Panthers website. “I thought we had a very deep team [at Boston College]. From the seniors down to the freshmen, everyone was contributing, which was great. It was a great year on the ice.”

Projected NHL arrival: 2022-23

Video: 31 in 31: Florida Panthers 2020-21 preview

 

2. Owen Tippett, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 10 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Springfield (AHL): 46 GP, 19-21-40

Tippett (6-1, 207) seems primed to make an impact for the Panthers in 2020-21 after the 21-year-old right wing led Springfield of the American Hockey League in scoring and was second in goals last season despite missing the final 15 games of the season because of an upper-body injury. He recovered and was on Florida’s roster for the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

“I thought he made some really good strides over the course of the season last year,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think he’s developing that consistency at what it’s going to take to be a pro. I’m looking forward to seeing him in training camp. It’s a good opportunity there for him.”

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

3. Anton Lundell, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 12 pick in 2020 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: HIFK Helsinki (Liiga): 44 GP: 10-18-28

Lundell played against older men in Finland’s top professional league last season and the 19-year-old didn’t look out of place; he had a face-off winning percentage of 53.5 percent and averaged 15:49 of ice time per game. He’s with HIFK again in 2020-21, and scored six points (two goals, four assists) in HIFK’s 11-1 win against Jukurit on Nov. 18.

The Panthers are confident Lundell (6-1, 185) can be a solid two-way center in the NHL.

“One of the hallmarks of Anton is his compete,” Florida general manager Bill Zito said. “He enjoys hockey, he likes to play and he wants to win. He’s the type of player, without putting too much pressure on him or trying to use too many superlatives, that we think we’d like to be a Florida Panther. He’s somebody who does the little things and who likes to play in all areas of the ice.”

Projected NHL arrival: 2022-23

 

4. Grigori Denisenko, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 15 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Yaroslavl Lokomotiv (KHL): 38 GP: 6-6-12

The 20-year-old was Russia captain at the 2020 WJC. He led them and was tied for fifth among all players with nine points (three goals, six assists) in seven games to help it finish second at the tournament. Denisenko (5-11, 176) signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Panthers on July 15 and is expected to battle for a roster spot at training camp and potentially have a top-nine role when the season begins.

“I think he’s got a shot [to make the team],” Quenneville said. “I think he’s in the same boat as [Tippett]. Both guys have that ability to be that high-end scorer and top-end players.”

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

5. Eetu Luostarinen, F

How acquired: Trade with Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 24

2019-20 season: Carolina: 8 GP, 0-1-1; Charlotte (AHL): 44 GP: 8-17-25; Springfield (AHL): 5 GP, 0-0-0

The 22-year-old center made his NHL debut with the Hurricanes on Nov. 7, 2019, and was traded to the Panthers as part of the return for forward Vincent Trocheck. Luostarinen (6-3, 184), a second-round pick (No. 42) by the Hurricanes at the 2017 NHL Draft, impressed the Panthers after his arrival and was part of the roster for the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. He is expected to compete for a roster spot in training camp.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

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