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Re-imagining the Florida Panthers 1995 NHL Entry Draft

Bryan Murray failed to land Jarome Iginla, LBC does not

Florida Panthers v Calgary Flames Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

After last re-imagining the Florida Panthers 1994 Entry Draft in Hartford we head north of the border for the 1995 event, held at the Coliseum in Edmonton, Alberta. The draft thankfully drops from a bloated 11-round affair to nine.

I laid 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 seventh 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.

The Rules

  • 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 1995 Florida Panthers Draft Class

R1/10 Radek Dvorak (F)

R2/36 Aaron MacDonald (G)

R3/62 Mike O’Grady (D)

R4/80 Dave Duerden (F)

R4/88 Daniel Tjarnqvist (D)

R5/114 Francois Cloutier (F)

R7/166 Peter Worrell (F)

R8/192 Filip Kuba (D)

R9/218 David Lemanowicz (G)

Analysis

Brian Murray’s second draft with the Panthers was a lot like his first (just not as good) with a solid first round pick in Radek Dvorak and some deft late-round mining that brought Peter Worrell and Filip Kuba into Florida’s fold. Fourth-rounders Dave Duerdan (2 games) and Daniel Tjarnqvist (352 games) also made it to the NHL. Unfortunately, Tjarnqvist never played a game on the Cats blue line. In any case, there were much better players taken right after those two guys that Murray badly missed on, players that would have made the Panthers a much better team. The selection of Kuba ended up being a steal and the only pick I didn’t change in retrospect, but it was the middle rounds of this draft cost the Cats as an organ-i-zation big-time. Let’s take a look, shall we?

LBC’s alternate Class of ‘95

R1/10 Jarome Iginla (F)

R2/36 Chris McAllister (D)

R3/62 Peter Schaefer (F)

R4/80 Marc Savard (F)

R4/88 Sami Kapanen (F)

R5/114 Miikka Kiprusoff (G)

R7/166 Per-Johan Axelsson (F)

R8/192 Filip Kuba (D)

R9/218 Danny Markov (D)

Pick versus Pick Analysis

R1/10 Radek Dvorak was a nice two-way right wing with some skill who went on to put up 590 points from in 1260 NHL games, but the very next selection in the draft was another right wing, Jarome Iginla, who went on to a Hall-of-Fame worthy career and in retrospect, should have gone first overall in Edmonton. Iginla lit the lamp 625 times and amassed 1300 points in a lengthy career that saw him captain the Calgary Flames to the Stanley Cup final in 2004. A six-time NHL All-Star, Iginla is Calgary’s all-time leader in goals, points, and games played, and is second in assists. Iginla scored 50 goals in a season twice and is one of seven players in NHL history to score 30 goals in 11 consecutive seasons. He also has a couple of Olympic Gold Medals in his trophy case. Oh, what could have been... The other players I could have taken with the three-pick limiter in place were Teemu Riihijarvi (who?) and J.S. Giguere.

R2/36 Not sure what Florida’s fascination with goalies named MacDonald was early in its history, but after Bobby Clarke missed on Todd in the fifth round of the 1993 draft, Murray whiffed even harder on Aaron at this spot. Neither MacDonald ever tended goal in an NHL game. A better pick would have been defenseman Chris McAllister. McAllister only produced four goals and 21 points at the NHL level, but he did crave out a 301-game career for himself and was the best option among the seven other picks I had to choose from.

R3/62 After striking out in the second round, Murray went in the wrong direction again with his selection of defenseman Mike O’Grady, who managed to appear in a grand total of 33 AHL games. A wiser choice would have been two-way forward Peter Schaefer. Schaefer quietly went on to bag 99 goals and put up 261 points in 572 games with the Vancouver Canucks, Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins.

R4/80 Round four was where Murray really failed to take advantage of the draft board, calling Duerden’s name when he could have gone with either Sami Kapanen or point-producing machine Marc Savard. I’ll end up with both of those players, taking Savard, who racked up 499 assists and 706 points in 807 career games before he was forced to hang ‘em up due to injury, first. Duerden played two scoreless games for the Cats during the 1999-00 season while Savard’s contract eventually ended up in Sunrise for a spell.

R4/88 In real life, the Panthers made a pretty solid choice at 88 with Swedish defenseman Daniel Tjarnqvist. As mentioned above, Tjarnqvist, whose rights went to Atlanta as part of the package for goalie Trevor Kidd, never played for Florida, but he did make 352 appearances with the Thrashers, Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche. In an alternate reality, the Panthers could have followed up Savard at 80 with Kapanen eight spots later for a monster one-two punch. Kapanen produced 189 goals and 458 points in 831 games with the Hartford Whalers / Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers and skated in two All-Star Games.

While he was not available for me in this exercise (rules and all), I do want to point out that Michal Handzus (483 points in 1002 games) was taken late in the fourth round, so Murray could’ve also gone with Mr. Handzus instead of Duerden or Tjarnqvist.

R5/114 Murray botched a fourth consecutive round with his selection of forward Francois Cloutier, an obscure player that I don’t think many Panthers fans ever remember being a prospect. The Cats could have had the heir apparent to John Vanbiesbrouck in Miikka Kiprusoff, who went two picks later to San Jose. Kiprusoff won 319 regular season games for the Sharks and Flames and posted a career 2.49 GAA. He led Calgary to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004 and won both the Vezina Trophy and William M. Jennings Trophy in 2006.

R7/166 In the real world, Murray got his draft back on track with the inspired selection of big and nasty QMJHLer Peter Worrell, who racked up 1554 PIM in a 391-game career spent mostly in a Panthers uniform. As much as I wanted to stand pat with Big Pete, I went with the much-more versatile P.J. Axelsson. A gritty, defensive-minded forward, who went to Boston 11 slots later, Axelsson produced 287 points in 797 games for the Bruins before he returned home to Sweden to finish out his playing career with Frölunda HC.

R8/192 Here I will stand pat with BM’s selection of Kuba, which was a flat-out great eighth-round grab. Unfortunately, the Panthers gave up on the young defenseman too soon, trading him for Rocky Thompson after only 18 NHL games and six points. Kuba went on to play a total of 836 tilts in the National, an impressive total for a player chosen so late, and produced 333 points and 361 PIM. He returned to Florida in 2012 as an unrestricted free agent and played the last 44 games of his long career for the Cats before they bought out the final year of his contract on July 3, 2013.

R9/218 Murray’s final selection in Edmonton was goaltender David Lemanowicz of the Spokane Chiefs. Lemanowicz did go on to a professional career, mostly as a low-level minor-leaguer, who appeared in 49 AHL games. Tough Russian defender Daniil “Danny” Markov, out of Spartak Moscow, was there for the taking and bypassed. Markov played in 538 NHL games for six different teams and put up 147 points while doing so. He returned to Russia and finished his career in the KHL.