Well, all of the sudden our little summer series needed a new name. What started out as the Florida Panthers 21 under 21 is now the 20 under 21 after the Cats traded Lawson Crouse (and Dave Bolland) to the Arizona Coyotes for two draft picks. For those wondering, young Lawson would have come in at number two in the countdown. So, now everyone else moves up a spot (except number one, of course) due to his departure. Now, let’s get back to it.
#15 - Linus Nassen - defenseman - Lulea
The Panthers drafted the mobile, left-shooting Swedish defender in the third round (89th overall) of the draft this summer after he posted 5 goals and 16 assists for in 47 games for Lulea’s U20 SuperElit team in 2015-16. Nassen also suited up for ten games with the big club in the Swedish Hockey League, going scoreless.
Looking at the pre-draft ratings, Nassen seems to be something of a reach as a third-rounder, but judging by the numbers, he is a productive defender and puck-handler whose strength is his skating. This penchant for putting up good offensive numbers from the back-end fits right in with the new mindset in Sunrise and is the reason why the Cats took him a round, or maybe two, before expected.
Nassen stands 5’, 10”, but only weighs in at somewhere around 170 lbs, so he will need to physically mature and get a lot stronger before he makes the move to North America. The Panthers are pretty-loaded defensively at both the NHL and prospect level, so the 18-year-old can spend another year or two in Sweden honing his craft and playing against men in the SHL. Like a lot of defensive prospects, he will probably need some time in the AHL after he signs his entry-level contract.
Look for Nassen to play the entirety of the 2016-17 season with Lulea’s top club. It will be interesting to see how long it takes him to start putting up numbers against the higher level of competition.