The Florida Panthers selected forward Greg Meireles in the sixth round (168th overall) at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft back in June at Rogers Place in Vancouver.
In the season prior to being chosen by the Cats, Meireles appeared in all 68 games for the Kitchener Rangers and blossomed offensively by scoring 36 goals and 61 assists after putting up 42 and 30 points in his first two OHL campaigns. His 97 points was the tenth highest total in the league. He notched a goal and added an assist in Kitchener’s four-game opening-round playoff loss to the Guelph Storm.
I had previously done two check-ins (November and January) with Florida’s 2019 draft class as they began the 2019-20 season, so we’ll start with that text and then see how he finished off the campaign before it was first postponed and then ultimately canceled six due to the coronavirus.
November: Drafted as a 20-year-old, Meireles was a bit of surprising selection by the Cats. With 97 points in his third full OHL season, the numbers were certainly there, but Meireles, who might have been picked with an eye towards Springfield, failed to earn a professional contract and returned to the Kitchener Rangers for his overage season, where has he produced 13 points in 12 games played so far this season.
January: Meireles has increased his rate of production since the early stages of the season with 34 points in his last 24 games, giving him a total of 47 (23G/24A) in 36 games played. The 21-year-old has missed ten games, making it unlikely he’ll be able to match the 97 points he put up in 2018-19. With the Rangers in first place in the OHL’s Midwest Division, perhaps a strong playoff performance could earn Meireles another shot at a pro contract.
May: In the final segment of the season, missed time continued to affect Meireles’ output, In February, he was slapped with a five-game suspension for his hit on Erie Otters defenseman Brendan Kischnick and ended missing another five games on top of that. In his final 12 games played of the ‘19-20 campaign, he scored 8 times and picked up 10 more assists to finish the season with 65 points in 48 games. Pretty good numbers, but his PPG average - 1.35, dipped slightly from 2018-19’s 1.43.
Meireles is a hardworking player, who despite his smallish stature, has no problem battling for loose pucks and uses his strong skating ability to be a pesky forecheker. Look for him to get another shot at Florida’s next training camp to earn either a one or two-way deal. Chances are he’ll end up in the AHL next season, provided that league comes back in its normal guise. If there is a reduction of teams, he could look for opportunities in Europe.
What does the future hold for Meireles?
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