We continue checking in on the progress of the last few Florida Panthers draft classes with a look back at the eight-man haul from the 2015 NHL Entry Draft that was held at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.
Lawson Crouse (First Round - 11th Overall)
Then: A big, physical winger with a bit of a scoring touch, Crouse was drafted 11th overall by the Panthers after a 29-goal, 51-point season for the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL.
On August 25, 2016, Crouse was traded to the Arizona Coyotes for a conditional second-round pick in 2017 and a third-round pick in 2018 as the Panthers rid themselves of the ill-fated Dave Bolland contract.
The Panthers got some value from Crouse, who just earned a new contract with the Coyotes, however, they would’ve been much better off had they gone a different direction by selecting Mathew Barzal, Thomas Chabot, Kyle Connor, Brock Boeser or Jake DeBrusk. I know hindsight is 20/20, but this is a pick Dale Tallon and many Panthers fans would like a do-over on, if only that was possible.
Samuel Montembeault (Third Round - 77th Overall)
Then: After two impressive seasons with the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, Montembeault was selected in the third round by the Panthers. He went on to play two more years with the Armada, posting a stellar 2.40 GAA in his final campaign in the ‘Q’ before beginning his professional career with the Springfield Thunderbirds, where he made 41 appearances as an AHL rookie and went 13-23-1 with a 3.24 GAA and .896 save percentage.
Last season: Montembeault’s numbers in his second season with Springfield were very much in line with the season prior. A late season call-up to Sunrise was much more encouraging. He dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Carolina Hurricanes in his NHL debut on March 2, before backstopping the Cats to wins over Minnesota, Detroit, San Jose and Los Angeles. While he went 0-3-1 over his final six appearances, he played well in three of the games, including a 35-save effort in his final start, a 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Islanders. As of right now, Montembeault is slated to be the backup to new acquisition, Sergei Bobrovsky in 2019-20.
Thomas Schemitsch (Third Round - 88th Overall)
Then: A right-handed defenseman with good size, Schemitsch was the Cats second of two third round picks, taken 88th overall. The Thornhill, ON native put up some nice offensive numbers in his draft year with 14 goals and 49 points, but he missed some games in his final OHL season and failed to match those totals. Schemitsch turned pro in 2016-17, splitting time between the Thunderbirds and ECHL’s Manchester Monarchs (RIP). In 2017-18, he played a full season with Springfield and fired in ten goals while finishing with a +3 rating.
Last season: Schemitsch produced AHL career-highs in both assists (15) and points (24) despite playing in 13 fewer games than the season prior. Had he not missed 20 games he would’ve hit double-digit goals again and probably eclipsed the 30-point mark. Schemitsch’s nine goals and +4 rating were both second-best among the team’s defensemen, while his 93 shots on goal were the third-highest total among the group. The 22-year-old, who just signed a new one-year deal, is getting better, but probably finds himself behind Riley Stillman and Brady Keeper when it comes to getting a call-up to the Panthers.
Denis Malgin (Fourth Round - 102nd Overall)
Then: Malgin was drafted after putting up 20 points in 47 games split between the Swiss National League A and B. After registering 17 points in 38 games with Zurich in 2015-16, Malgin surprisingly won a job with the Panthers in 2016-17, thanks to strong training camp and some injuries opening the door for him. As an NHL rookie, Malgin produced 10 points in 47 games and he also added 12 points in 15 AHL games with the Thunderbirds. Malgin showed improvement at the NHL level during the 2017-18 season, producing 22 points in 51 games. He also put up 14 points in 13 AHL games, proving that he is probably too good for that league.
Last season: Malgin took a step forward in one respect as he didn’t spend anytime in the AHL. However, his numbers did dip slightly as he finished with 7 goals and 16 points in 50 games. Malgin also went from +4 in ‘17-18 to -10 last season. Not a huge cause for alarm as the Panthers as a whole were pretty putrid defensively. The 22-year-old has already appeared in 148 NHL games, by far the most of the draft class when subtracting the departed Crouse, and has shown flashes of offensive potential. Despite that, he has yet to earn himself a full-time role with the club and it’s still uncertain to where he actually fits on the roster. Assuming he re-signs, if he can show some progress and carve himself out a role, he could become a keeper, or maybe become an attractive option for Seattle come Summer 2021. Malgin could be a player that would benefit from a change of scenery as his progress here seems blocked by both veterans and more ballyhooed prospects.
Karch Bachman (Fifth Round - 132nd Overall)
Then: Bachman was selected by the Panthers in the fifth round of 2015 Entry Draft after scoring 19 goals and 24 assists in 32 games for Culver Military Academy. Prior to his senior season, the young American played for Team USA’s bronze-winning squad at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, scoring 4 points (3G/1A) in five games. Bachman spent the 2015-16 campaign in the USHL playing for the Green Bay Gamblers, Chicago Steel and Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. In the fall of 2016, he enrolled at Miami University, where put up modest numbers of 2 goals and 4 assists as a freshman and then followed that up with 7 goal, 16-point season as a sophomore.
Last season: Bachman played in all 38 games for the RedHawks and produced ten goals for the first time at the NCAA level while matching his sophomore point total of 16. He led the team in shots on goal and was named NCHC Academic All Conference. Barchman recorded four multi-point games, including a two-goal effort against No. 1 St. Cloud State on March 16. The left winger, who has yet to sign an ELC, will return to Miami for his senior looking to build on the improvement he showed as a junior.
Chris Wilkie (Sixth Round - 162nd Overall)
Then: Right wing Chris Wilkie was drafted after totaling 52 goals and 91 points in two seasons with the Tri-City Storm of the USHL. The Nebraska native enrolled at the University of North Dakota program and wasn’t very productive in two seasons with the Fighting Hawks, scoring 5 goals and 4 assists as a freshman and then just one goal and 9 assists as a sophomore.
Last season: After completing the 2016-17 season, Wilkie transferred from North Dakota to Colorado College. Despite being forced to sit out a year, the move paid off in spades as he rediscovered his scoring touch with six goals and 19 points in 20 total games played. Wilkie posted 14 points (3G/11A) in 13 games after returning from early-season injury. The 23-year-old will return to Colorado Springs in the fall to complete his NCAA eligibility and perhaps earn a contract with the Panthers or garner notice from another organization if the Cats decide to pass and let him become an unrestricted free agent.
Patrick Shea (Seventh Round - 192nd Overall)
Then: Shea was the first of Florida’s two picks in the final round of the draft after putting up 19 goals and 20 assists in 33 games for Kimball Union Academy. Shea was a University of Maine commit, but after contemplating playing for the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms, he decided to stay in New Hampshire and play one more season at Kimball Union. Shea finally joined the Black Bears for the 2016-17 season and put up 16 points in 33 games as a freshman. As a sophomore, his offensive numbers dipped to 14 points, but he flipped his plus/minus rating from -6 to +6.
Last season: Shea’s junior season brought more of the same as he finished with five goal and 15 points again while appearing in 35 out of 36 games. His PIM total jumped from 29 to 42 and he registered a season-high three points in a game against Boston College on January 16. Like Bachman and Wilkie, Shea will need a big showing in his senior season to earn a contract with the Panthers.
Ryan Bednard (Seventh Round - 206th Overall)
Then: The last of Florida’s 2015 draft haul, Bednard was drafted 206th overall after appearing in 37 games for the Johnstown Tomahawks of the Tier-II NAHL. Bednard compiled a 16-16-5 record with a 2.66 GAA, 1 shutout and a .913 save percentage. He also played one game for the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms, surrendering 4 goals in a loss. Bednard appeared in just seven games as a freshman for Bowling Green University. During his sophomore season, he served notice that he was a prospect to watch as he went 15-8-4 and posted a 2.24 GAA.
Last season: After his impressive sophomore season, Bednard excelled in his third and final NCAA campaign with Bowling Green University. His numbers: 20-8-4 / 1.77 GAA / .927 save percentage - were eye-popping. Bednard signed an entry-level contract on April 2, and is currently fourth or fifth on the organization’s depth chart. With Chris Dreidger expected to be the number one in Springfield, Bednard will battle Philippe Desrosiers for the right to be his backup. Don’t count Bednard out, he has been very noticeable in his appearances at Panthers Development Camp and could turn out to be a late-round steal.