We still have a ways to go until the return of NHL hockey so I thought this might be a fun way to go back and take a look at what might have been for the Florida Panthers had they chosen more wisely during the various Entry Drafts they have participated in.
We’ll start here with the 1993 draft and go as far as we can before the playoffs start. I don’t think we need to get all the way to 2019 as prospects are obviously, still making their way to the show, so I think somewhere around 2016 or 2017 might make the best stopping point.
I am going to lay down a few rules to keep a sense of realism to my picks (i.e. no using a second round pick to pull a gem out of the sixth round that every team missed on repeatedly) and I hope at least some of you choose to play along in the comment section. It should be fun to see how powerful a draft class one could amass in hindsight.
- If you are happy with the choice Florida made at the time you can stick with that pick.
- First Round (a): If the pick is in the top ten, you can only select an alternate player from the next three chosen in real life
- First Round (b): If the pick is outside the top ten, you can only select an alternate player from the next five chosen in real life
- Second Round: You can only select an alternate player from the next seven chosen in real life.
- Third Round: You can only select an alternate player from the next ten chosen in real life.
- All other rounds: You can only select an alternate player from the next 15 chosen in real life.
If you want to post your picks in the comment you can use these rules or throw them out and pick anyone you’d like that came after the Panthers pick. It’ll be interesting to see what you can come up with.
The 1993 Florida Panthers Draft Class
R1/5 Rob Niedermayer (F)
R2/41 Kevin Weekes (G)
R3/57 Chris Armstrong (D)
R3/67 Mikael Tjallden (D)
R3/78 Steve Washburn (F)
R4/83 Bill McCauley (F)
R5/109 Todd MacDonald (G)
R6/135 Alain Nasreddine (D)
R7/161 Trevor Doyle (D)
R8/187 Briane Thompson (D)
R9/213 Chad Cabana (F)
R10/239 John DeMarco (D)
R11/265 Eric Montreuil (F)
After doing a fine job in the expansion draft, Bobby Clarke’s one and only entry draft as Florida’s GM could have gone a lot better in retrospect. Forward Rob Niedermayer was a solid enough first-round choice, one that went one to put up 469 points in 1153 NHL games and won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007, but Clarke’ mindset, in what was an 11-round draft at the time, seemed to be overstocking the cupboard with defensive prospects who unfortunately, didn’t pan out, with sixth-rounder Nasreddine (74 NHL games) being the “best” of this weak bunch and third-rounder Chris Armstrong (7 NHL games) being the biggest whiff. Kevin Weekes went to enjoy a fruitful NHL career, but his claim to fame with Florida - other than being the first goalie the team ever selected - was being part of the package that brought Pavel Bure to South Florida. That’s something I guess... The only other member of the class to make it to the NHL was center Steve Washburn, who played 70 of his 73 career games for the Panthers.
LBC’s alternate Class of ‘93
R1/5 Jason Arnott (F)
R2/41 Jamie Allison (D)
R3/57 Ville Peltonen (F)
R3/67 Vaclav Prospal (F)
R3/78 Steve Washburn (F)
R4/83 Eric Daze (F)
R5/109 Miroslav Satan (F)
R6/135 Per Svartvadet (F)
R7/161 Todd Marchant (F)
R8/187 Manny Legace (G)
R9/213 Pavol Demitra (F)
R10/239 Kimmo Timonen (D)
R11/265 Scott Nichol (F)
Pick versus Pick Analysis
Oh, what could have been had Clarke and Co. been a little more forward-thinking (pun fully intended) at the draft table. Sure, it’s easy to make picks in hindsight, but Clarke, and I’m sure a lot of the other league’s general managers, left a lot on the table in Quebec City. After laying a solid veteran foundation at the expansion draft, the Cats could have been set for years to come had they been more focused on goals and skill instead of stocking up on defenders at this draft. Let’s take a look at my alternate selections as I play Hawthorne Abendsen.
R1/5 Yeah, Neidermayer played in over 1000 games, but I went with the more dangerous Arnott, a guy who came pretty close to 1000 points (938 to be exact) and also won a Stanley Cup. Considering the rules I put in place, I could have went Viktor Kozlov, who ended up on the Panthers, Niklas Sundstrom or stayed pat with Neidermayer. Arnott was clearly the best of those four options in my humble opinion.
R2/41 Weekes was part of the Bure package, but he only played 11 games in a Florida uniform. Allison, who went three picks later to Calgary, was an unheralded defender who quietly ended up playing 372 NHL games. His last seven games in the league came with the Cats in 2005-06. Given the seven-slot parameter in the second round, the only other player I considered here was defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick. I almost stayed pat with Weekesy, but gave the nod to Allison after some internal debate.
R3/57 Instead of choosing Armstrong, Clarke should have selected Ville Peltonen, who went with the very next pick to the San Jose Sharks. The Finn played in 382 NHL games to Armstrong’s seven and produced 52 goals and 148 points. Like Allison, Peltonen also eventually ended up in Sunrise and spent his final three NHL seasons sporting a Panthers sweater.
R3/67 Here’s a spot where Clarke could’ve knocked it out of the park. Tjallden spent a total of one season in North America, toiling in the minors before quickly returning to Europe. The Czech-born Prospal, who was taken by Clarkie’s beloved Philadelphia Flyers, went on to rack up 765 points in 1108 career NHL games. We did get a fleeting glance at Vaclav, as he played 34 games for the Panthers in 2000-01 before he joined the Tampa Bay Lightning. If the Cats were dead-set on going defense at this spot Marek Malik was there for the taking.
R3/78 Due to my own rules, I had to stand pat with Washburn here. The only other player to make the National taken in the next ten spots was defenseman Ruslan Batyrshin, who played 2 games for the Los Angeles Kings in 1995-96. Had I had one more pick to work with, I would have selected Jamal Mayers. While I wasn’t allowed to, in real life the Panthers could have and had a tough winger who played 915 big-league games.
R4/83 Reality bit here and the Panthers went with OHLer Bill McCauley, who re-entered the draft two years later and was selected by the Boston Bruins. He didn’t play for either of the teams drafted him. After bypassing him at 78, Clarke could have taken Mayers here or better yet, he could have tabbed sharpshooter Eric Daze, who went to Chicago 90th overall and poured in 226 goals in 601 NHL games with the Blackhawks. Oops...
R5/109 Here’s a another selection where the Panthers struck out when a home run was sitting there for the taking, if they were willing to be a little evil. MacDonald topped out in the AHL, while the 111th pick in draft, Miroslav Satan rang up 363 goals and 735 points in 1105 NHL games. So, halfway through the draft the Cats could’ve already hypothetically had Arnott, Prospal, Daze and Satan...
R6/135 As far as sixth-round picks go, Nasreddine was a pretty decent bit of bird-dogging as he did go on to play 74 NHL games, mostly with the Pittsburgh Penguins. That said, a solid Swedish center was available in Svartvadet, who appeared in 247 games in a four-season run with the Atlanta Thrashers. This one’s for you, Zim!
R7/161 Again, the Panthers went defense with Doyle, who did make it to the AHL, when they would have been much better off choosing speedy two-way forward Todd Marchant. The guy with a pretty cool first name went on to play 1195 games and accumulated 498 points for the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks.
R8/187 Weekes likely would’ve been good for the Panthers had he not been traded away and MacDonald never made it, but if a goalie was what Clarke was searching for, he could have stolen Manny Legace in the eighth round. Instead, the IRL pick was defenseman Briane Thompson, who went to college after playing junior before eventually becoming a minor-league journeyman while Legace made 367 NHL appearances and posted a 187-100-42 record and 2.42 GAA.
R9/213 We are past the 200-pick mark of this grueling draft and the Cats still could have flat-out stolen one this deep. Florida selected Tri-City Americans forward Chad Cabana. They should have stepped up and taken skilled Slovak Pavol Demitra. A bit of a late-bloomer, Demitra became a top-line player who produced 768 points in 847 career NHL games. RIP, Pavol.
R10/239 Clarke said DeMarco, but I say Timmonen. More European gold was left to be mined in the late rounds of this draft and again the Cats whiffed. Originally selected by the Kings, Timmonen enjoyed a fine 1108-game NHL career with the Nashville Predators, Flyers and Blackhawks that saw him produce 581 points from the back end.
R11/265 The Panthers wrapped its first-ever draft with Eric Montreuil, who played exactly 100 AHL games with the Carolina Monarchs. I finish up my alternate history 1993 draft with forward Scott Nichol, who went seven slots after Montreuil in real life. The hard-nosed Nichol posted 127 points and 916 PIM in 662 NHL games spent with six different teams.