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Spencer Knight headlines Florida Panthers 2019 draft class update

A look at the Cats nine-man June haul

HOCKEY: SEP 19 USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game

With a second straight off-day on the schedule I thought today would be a good time to take a brief look at how the Florida Panthers most recent draft class is doing at roughly the quarter pole of the season.

Spencer Knight (1-13)

Knight is doing exactly what was expected of him, and that is be pretty damn dominant as a college freshman. The 13th overall pick and first goaltender ever selected in the first round of the draft by the Panthers has compiled a 7-4 record with a 1.91 GAA and .936 save percentage for a good, but not great Boston College Eagles team. In addition to his other eye-popping numbers, Knight also has posted shutout wins over Colgate, Connecticut and Vermont and has his club on a five-game winning streak and in fourth place in Hockey East.

Vladislav Kolyachonok (2-52)

In 23 games with the OHL’s Flint Firebirds, the 18-year-old blueliner is already up to six goals. That’s two better than he produced in 53 regular season games last season. Kolyachonk has collected eight assists as well, putting him on pace to eclipse last year’s point total of 29. The Minsk native is currently +3 (he finished -23 last season) and is playing a much more disciplined game for the Firebirds, who are in third place in the Eastern Conference.

John Ludvig (3-69)

Many draftniks considered Ludvig a reach when the Panthers selected him 69th overall. However, it looks Tallon Inc. knew exactly what they were doing when the scooped up this Portland Winterhawks defender. The 19-year-old Ludvig is blossoming offensively in his third WHL season. After producing a combined total of 7 goals and 25 points in his first two campaigns in the league, this season Ludvig is up to nine goals and 20 points in 23 games. While he has managed to increase his scoring totals to an unexpected degree, he has not lost the physical edge to his game.

Cole Schwindt (3-81)

The tall and lanky Schwindt had a solid second turn (49 points in 68 games) with the Mississauga Steelheads during his draft season to catch the eye of the Cats. This season, Schwindt, who currently has 5 goals and 12 assists in 23 games, is on pace to finish with an OHL-high of 50 points on the strength of an uptick in his assist numbers. He’ll have to start finding the back of the net more often if he wants to better last year’s 19 goals. This might be a tough task for the 18-year-old right winger as the Steelheads aren’t looking like a quality side this season and could miss the playoffs.

Carter Berger (4-106)

After three seasons in the BCHL with Victoria Grizzlies, this year Berger made the jump to NCAA competition with the Connecticut Huskies. The freshman defender has collected two assists in 11 games to go along with 6 PIM and a -2 rating. Berger put up 27 goals and 36 assists in his final season with Grizzlies, so look for his offensive numbers to increase as he becomes more comfortable and his role increases at UConn.

Henrik Rybinski (5-136)

After averaging just over a point a game (35) in 33 tilts with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds last season, Rybinski’s offensive totals have taken a serious dip in the first portion of the 2019-20 campaign. The talented playmaker from Vancouver has amassed just 2 goals and 7 helpers in 22 games played. Rybinski is also tied with Andrej Kukuca with a team-worst -18 rating. The Thunderbirds are struggling as a team and Rybinski is definitely feeling the effects of this.

Owen Lindmark (5-137)

Things are going markedly better for the player the Panthers selected with the very next pick. A graduate of the US National Team Development Program, Lindmark is off to an impressive start to his NCAA career with 4 goals and 6 assists in 14 games with the University of Wisconsin, a rather middling team in the Big Ten. Overshadowed by bigger names on the USNTDP, the talented center might turn out to be a sneaky good pick by Florida in the fifth round.

Greg Meireles (6-168)

Drafted as a 20-year-old, Meireles was a bit of surprising selection by the Cats. With 97 points in his fourth OHL season, the numbers were certainly there, but Meireles, who might have been picked with an eye towards Springfield, failed to earn a pro contract and returned to the Kitchener Rangers as an overager, where has he produced 13 points in 12 games played so far this season.

Matthew Wedman (7-199)

The Panthers took another flyer on an older prospect when they wrapped up the draft by picking Wedman, a physical center who poured in 40 goals in 66 games for WHL Seattle last season. With the Thunderbirds struggling mightily, Wedman is unlikely to match his 77-point performance from last year. Currently, Wedman has 17 points in 16 games so he should finish somewhere in the 60-70 point range if plays in enough games. Wedman could end up getting a shot with the AHL Thunderbirds next season.