We recently took a look at the Florida Panthers 2017 and 2018 NHL Entry Draft classes, now let’s check back in with the Class of 2016 to see how they did in year three since they were selected by the Cats in Buffalo.
Henrik Borgstrom (First Round - 23rd overall)
Considered by many to be a reach when taken at 23rd overall, the highly-skilled Borgstrom reached the NHL after completing two dazzling seasons with the Denver Pioneers. During his sophomore campaign with the Pioneers, Borgstrom bettered his numbers from his freshman year with 23 goals and 29 assists in 40 games. At the end of the 2017–18 NCAA season, he was named a Hobey Baker Award finalist and a First-Team West All-American.
After signing an entry-level contract on March 26, 2018, Borgstrom played in four games with the Panthers and scored his first NHL goal against the Boston Bruins in a 4-2 win in Florida’s final regular season game. The lanky 20-year-old averaged 12:40 TOI and registered a total of six shots on goal and finished with a -1 rating.
After fading a bit towards the end of training camp, Borgstrom started his first full professional season with the Springfield Thunderbirds, where he totaled five goals and 22 points in 24 games, earning a mid-December recall.
After getting blanked in his NHL season debut against Toronto, Borgstrom picked up an assist in his next game versus Buffalo and then scored the Panthers only goal in 5-1 loss to the Maple Leafs. He would add two more goals before the end of the calendar year.
Entering 2019, with three goals and an assist in his first eight games, things didn’t go overly well for Borgstrom the rest of the way as he struggled to adjust to play in the world’s best league. He would score just five more times and add nine assists in his final 42 appearances and finish the season with a -14 rating. Not an out-of-the-ordinary mark on a porous Panthers club.
The highlight to Borgstrom’s rookie season came on March 2, when he scored two goals and an assist in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. This was the first (and only) multi-goal and multi-point game of his career thus far.
Now that he’s gotten his feet wet at the NHL level, look for more from Borgstrom in 2019-20. Expectations are, with a solid showing in training camp, that he will center the team’s third line where he should have at least one 20-goal scorer (Brett Connolly or Frank Vatrano) flanking him.
Adam Mascherin (Second Round - 38th overall)
Depending on how he turns out if and when he ever gets to the show, Mascherin could join the likes of Joonas Donskoi and Zach Hyman as Panthers selections that got away and then became useful players for other teams.
After choosing not to sign with the Cats, Mascherin re-entered the 2018 Entry Draft, where was taken in the fourth round (100th overall) by the Dallas Stars.
In his first professional season, Mascherin put up 18 goals and 26 assists in 75 AHL games for the Texas Stars.
Linus Nassen (Third Round - 89th overall)
After his selection by Florida, Nassen spent one more year in Sweden, mainly with Lulea HF, before coming over to North America.
Nassen played the 2017-18 season for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL and scored one goal in 44 games. The young blueliner assisted on 25 goals to finish with a respectable 26 points to go along with a -11 rating and saw action in three games of Medicine Hat’s six-game loss to Brandon in the opening round of the playoffs.
A second season with the Tigers saw Nassen build on his numbers from the year prior, as he produced 7 goals and 39 assists while posting a +6 rating in 62 games. He was very effective in Medicine Hat’s opening-round playoff loss to Edmonton, scoring three times and adding two assists in five games.
After not receiving an entry-level contract from the Panthers, Nassen is slated to play 2019-20 with the Vaxjo Lakers of the Swedish Hockey League. He is still listed on Florida reserve list.
Jonathan Ang (Fourth Round - 94th overall)
After signing an entry-level contract during his fourth OHL season, Ang went on to score 25 goals and set a new-career highs with 45 assists and 70 points in 65 combined games with the Peterborough Petes and Sarnia Sting. In the OHL playoffs, he piled up 9 points in 12 games.
The speedy forward turned professional in 2018-19 and played in 75 AHL games, where he totaled just five goals to go along with 20 assists. Ang wasn’t a big goal scorer in junior, but he should be able to hit double digits going forward as his takes on a bigger role with the Thunderbirds this season.
Riley Stillman (Fourth Round - 114th overall)
Taken twenty picks after Ang, Stillman appeared in a combined 62 games for the OHL’s Oshawa Generals and Hamilton Bulldogs in 2017-18, setting new-career highs with 29 assists and 34 points. In his 33 games with Hamilton, Stillman posted an impressive +22 rating and went on to have a monster postseason, racking up 23 PIM and scoring 5 goals (as many as he bagged in the regular season) and 9 assists in 21 games as the Bulldogs won the league championship. He played in all four of Hamilton’s games at the 2018 Memorial Cup, where they were eliminated in the semi-final by the Regina Pats.
After attending training camp, Stillman was assigned to the Thunderbirds were he played in 59 games, displaying a solid two-way game while totaling 4 goals and 13 assists. On February 26, he made his NHL debut against the Arizona Coyotes and became the first second generation player in franchise history.
Maxim Mamin (Sixth Round - 175th overall)
Mamin spent one more year in the KHL before coming over to North America after being drafted. In 32 games at the AHL level with the Thunderbirds, the 23-year-old Russian put up 25 points (9G/16A) in 32 games, very good numbers for an offensively-challenged Springfield team. In 26 games with Florida, Mamin notched 3 goals, his first career marker came against the Washington Capitals on February 22, and set up another to finish with 4 points and +2 rating.
Mamin started to look very comfortable in the Panthers bottom-six as time wore on during his rookie season. He was expected to remain in that role during the 2018-19 season, but after seven scoreless games he was, somewhat surprisingly, loaned to his former KHL team, CSKA Moscow, where eventually scored the Gagarin Cup-winning goal.
The Panthers extended a qualifying offer to Mamin, who was a restricted free agent, this summer and retain his NHL rights. I suppose there is a small chance he could show up for training camp with a new coach on board, but it seems far more likely that we have seen the last of the 24-year-old in a Florida uniform, as he might prefer to stay in the KHL instead of being an NHL-AHL bubble player.
Benjamin Finkelstein (Seventh Round - 195th Overall)
With its final pick in Buffalo, the Cats went the prep school route when it selected Kimball Union’s Finkelstein.
The smallish offensive-minded defenseman enrolled at St. Lawrence University and produced 23 points in 37 games as freshman. In his sophomore season, Finkelstein amassed 12 points in 20 games (with a -13 rating) before leaving the school for the USHL’s Waterloo Blackhawks, where he racked up 34 points in 23 games and added 6 more in 8 playoff tilts.
Finkelstein returned to the NCAA last season after a transfer to the Boston College Eagles. After being forced to sit out the early portion of the season, he ended up playing in 22 games and totaled ten points (1G/9A) for an Eagles team that wasn’t up to its usual snuff.
The 21-year-old will return to BC in the fall for his senior season, where he will again suit up alongside fellow Cats prospect Logan Hutsko and now, new arrival Spencer Knight. Boston College has gotten a healthy dose of new talent, so look for Finkelstein’s numbers to increase.
Florida will have to make a decision on the seventh-rounder by next August or he will become an unrestricted free agent.