The Florida Panthers selected forward Matthew Wedman in the seventh round (199th overall), its last pick at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft back in June at Rogers Place in Vancouver.
In the season prior to being chosen by the Cats, Wedman appeared in 66 games for the Seattle Thunderbirds and blossomed offensively by scoring a team-leading 40 goals and 77 points after putting up 14, 20 and 47 points in his first three WHL campaigns. He notched three goals and three assists in Seattle’s six-game opening-round playoff loss to the Vancouver Giants.
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: 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.
January: After playing in three more (scoreless) games for Seattle, Wedman was traded to Kelowna Rockets in early December for three draft picks. In 22 games with his new team, the 20-year-old has scored six goals and ten assists and racked up 48 PIM. The Rockets are a slightly stronger side than the Thunderbirds, so it’ll be interesting to see what Wedman does over the final 21 games of the regular season and the playoffs.
May: In his final 16 games of the season with the Rockets, Wedman finished strong by putting up 20 points to finish the year with 23 goals, 30 assists and 101 PIM in 54 games. He averaged over a point a game (36 in 35) after the trade to Kelowna, but more was expected of him in his overage season.
Wedman is a tough, persistent, 6’3” forward who is not afraid to use his body to get chances down low and could eventually become a power forward with a scoring touch. Like fellow overager Greg Meireles, look for Wedman 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 too could look for opportunities in Europe.
What does the future hold for Wedman?
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