The 2013 NHL Entry Draft will take place on Sunday, June 30th at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ and the Panthers, who currently hold five of the first 98 picks, are set to add to an impressive collection of existing prospects in the system.
Many in the know are comparing the level of talent in this draft to the 2003 Entry Draft which produced stars like Eric Staal, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and Corey Perry among others.
Defenseman Seth Jones, of the WHL's Portland Winterhawks, is the number one ranked prospect by NHL Central Scouting heading into the draft. He is followed by a pair of Halifax Mooseheads: center Nathan MacKinnon and left wing Jonathan Drouin. Unless the Panthers trade down they should walk away with one of those three potential stars.
Rumor has it the Colorado Avalanche, who pick first, will pass on Jones to select a forward, giving MacKinnon or Drouin a chance to be the first player called to the stage. This will leave the Cats with the option of grabbing the remaining elite-level forward or to bolster their defense by making Jones the pick.
In addition to their first round selection, the Panthers have a second round pick (31st overall), three picks in the fourth round (92nd overall) - (97th overall acquired in the Corban Knight deal) - (98th overall acquired for Jerred Smithson), a fifth round pick (122nd overall) and finally a selection in the sixth round (152nd overall).
The Cats currently do not have a selection in the third round (pick traded to the New York Rangers for Wojtek Wolski) or the seventh round (pick traded to the Dallas Stars for a 7th round pick in 2012).