Many draftniks considered John Ludvig, who wasn’t selected in 2018, a huge reach when the Florida Panthers took him in the third round (69th overall) of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft after the defenseman produced 18 points in 58 games for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League during his second season in the league.
Fortunately for the Panthers, it looks like former general manage Dale Tallon and his scouting staff knew exactly what they were doing when they scooped up the young defender. Ludvig, who was named team captain, blossomed offensively during his third WHL campaign, racking up an impressive 17 goals and 45 assists in 60 games before the remainder of the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 6-foot-1, 201-pounder ranked third among all defensemen in points and assists, while ranking fourth in goals. Ludvig was named to the Western Conference First All-Star team for his unexpected, head-turning performance.
After signing an entry-level contract with the Panthers on March 30, 2020, Ludvig eventually ended up with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. He recorded his first professional goal, the game-winner, on March 1 against the Rochester Americans, and finished the trunacted season with two goals and eight points in 13 games played.
John Ludvig puts the Crunch up 4-3. I think everyone scores when they shoot glove side. pic.twitter.com/G8sH72cefR— LGA585 (@LGA585) March 1, 2021
Ludvig is among the eight defensemen who will take part in Florida’s upcoming development camp, which is slated to begin on September 10. Look for the 21-year-old to spent the 2021-22 season with the Charlotte Checkers to gain more professional experience after having his playing time limited, like most prospects, by the pandemic last season.
Prior to his breakout season in junior, Ludvig was viewed as more of a physical, defensive defenseman by most scouts, His final turn with Portland and smattering of games with Syracuse prove there is a lot more than initially met the eye with this potential gem of a selection.