This is the pick that we will all be waiting for on June 26th, as the Florida Panthers will have the chance to add another great prospect to their already stacked system.
It's all but guaranteed that the Cats will pick a winger, as the team's wealth at the center position means that they have no need for another player down the middle.
With that in mind, the Florida Panthers use the 11th overall pick in the Litter Box Cats Mock Draft to select:
Mikko Rantanen - RW TPS Turku
Mikko Rantanen is a big-bodied Finn who plays a highly intelligent game, and uses his size, speed, and skill to not only create offense, but also smother the opposition defensively. Sound familiar?...
If you're not already drooling at the thought of Rantanen lining up with countryman Aleksander Barkov in the future, here's what the scouts are saying:
"An exceptionally talented playmaker and always a consistent threat on the ice; Rantanen is a combination of elite-level hockey sense, silky smooth hands, and nimble skating. Needs to improve his shot and physical play, as he doesn't take advantage of his size in many situations. All-in-all, an intelligent, big-bodied forward that oozes skill." — Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects
"The 18-year-old playing with TPS in the Finnish Sm-Liiga has started the season with 17 points in 44 games while playing against men. Add this to the four goals in five games at the World Juniors, five points in five games that he scored at the 2014 Under-18s, and the three goals and seven points in five games that he scored in the 2013 Ivan Hlinka tournament. Rantanen is a big player who plays a power forward style of game. He works extremely hard along the boards and is extremely effective at winning battles in international tournaments in his age group. He may not throw huge hits, but he uses his size effectively in the corners and in establishing position in the offensive zone. He also drives the net hard and can finish in close. He controls the puck well down low on the cycle and has the vision to spot open teammates and the passing skill to feather a tape-to-tape pass through the tiniest of openings. Rantanen’s skating is decent. He has good top end speed but he can improve his first step and acceleration. He shows good effort at the defensive end and is a solid two-way player."
"A strong three-zone playmaker who is also defensively responsible…has an awkward upright skating stride, but gets from Point A to Point B just fine…not a big "wow" factor to his game, but is a smooth, fluid, big-bodied forward who can be hard to handle…uses his strength and reach, along with his vision and hands, to protect the puck…has good instincts when to pass and when to hold…puck seems to follow him around the ice…good in his own zone and consistently makes himself available for a breakout pass…has impressive hockey sense and awareness…needs to work on his shot and add more muscle mass to his growing frame. (December 2014)"
This is a player who will excel playing with other cerebral players such as Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. He's a great fit for the Panthers.
Just a note here: Rantanen is our staff choice in the LBC mock draft. On Monday, we will be taking part in the big SB Nation mock draft where the chips fell a little differently and a another prospect ends up in a Panthers sweater.