Florida Panthers 20 under 21: #20 - Benjamin Finkelstein
Slight blue-liner is big on offensive skill
Editors note: When we started this series, the Florida Panthers were nice enough to have exactly 21 prospects under the age of 21. Well, the Lawson Crouse trade has changed that. We’ve changed the name of the series and adjusted everyone’s position up by one, except for the one player who finished above Lawson in the ratings to reflect Crouse’s move to Arizona. Our voting process remains the same as it ever was, based on 21 players.
#20 - Benjamin Finkelstein - defenseman - Kimball Union Academy
Highest rank: 20 Lowest rank: 20
The Panthers drafted the 5’,9” Finkelstein in the seventh round (195th overall) of the 2016 Entry Draft after the young defender amassed impressive totals of 24 goals and 70 points in 35 games for New Hampshire prep school Kimball Union Academy.
Last season, Finkelstein also played 11 games for the Boston Jr. Bruins Selects U18 where he again averaged two points per game by posting 24 of them on 8 goals and 16 assists.
Judging by those eye-popping numbers, the kid can generate points by the bushel from the back end.
KUA head coach Tim Whitehead had this to say about Finkelstein:
“His skillset is scary good,” Whitehead said. “And it’s not just his skills — he can skate all day, he’s an effortless skater. He’s got great poise with the puck, plays with his head up.“I’ve coached a lot of NHL picks, NHL players, and Ben is right there with his skills and his skating.”
Weighing in at just 180 lbs, Finkelstein definitely has some filling out to do, but that’s certainly not out of the ordinary for a seventh-round pick. Like most offensive-defenseman at this stage of the game, I’m sure he will also need to hone his skills in his own end as well.
Although Finkelstein was chosen by the OMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the 14th round in 2014, he will be going the NCAA route to continue his development. The Cats’ prospect is slated to enroll at St. Lawrence University where he will play under former Panthers’ assistant coach Mark Morris. That’s a good fit for both the player and the organization.
Finkelstein might be small, but he is highly-skilled. As a seventh-rounder he is a long-range prospect, but one that warrants keeping an eye on the next couple years.