Florida Panthers 2020 draft class update

A gem, a potential late steal, and some slow burners have fans excited

While we await the rolling out of the NHL postseason schedule and times for the first two games of the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning series, let’s take a look at how the Cats’ Class of 2020 did this season.

Anton Lundell (First Round - 12th overall)

Despite missing 24 Liiga games due to an appearance at the World Junior Championship and a case of covid-19, Lundell managed to lead HIFK with 16 goals in 26 games played and added 9 assists for a total of 25 points, which was good for sixth-best on the team. He added a goal and and two assists in 7 postseason games. The highlight of Lundell’s Liiga season was a six-point night in a win over Jukurit on November 10. He finished third in scoring (6G/4A) in a dominant performance at the WJC in Edmonton as Finland captured the bronze medal. Lundell could be playing an important role on the Panthers as soon as next season.

Ty Smilanic (Third Round - 74th overall)

Smilanic tied for the team lead in goals (14) with junior Ethan de Jong. That number was good for 11th in the nation. Pretty impressive stuff for a freshman. The 19-year-old added 7 assists to finish with 21 points, which was fourth on the Bobcats, in 29 games, Smilanic scored twice against American International (12/26) and Colgate (1/17), and produced a season-high four points (1G/3A) against Long Island University on February 22. Among his 14 goals were four game-winners, tops on the team.

Justin Sourdif (Third Round - 87th overall)

Sourdif piled up the points for the Vancouver Giants in the late-starting WHL regular season. The 19-year-old led the team in assists (23) and points (34) in 22 games played for the Giants, who finished with a 12-10 record. His 34 points were the top mark in the B.C. Division, and the fifth-best total in the league as of this article.

Mike Benning (Fourth Round - 95th overall)

Benning, a defenseman, amassed 3 goals and 8 assists in 21 games for Denver University. The 19-year-old produced a total of four multi-point games and scored two goals in a 5-4 win over Omaha on March 13. He registered 40 shots on goal, took four minor penalties and finished the year with a -1 rating.

Zach Uens (Fifth Round - 105th overall)

Picked ten slots after Benning, Uens, another defender, finished his sophomore season with one goal and 6 helpers in 14 games for Merrimack. His only goal came on a power play in a 6-2 loss to Connecticut on January 30. He had two assists in a 6-2 win over New Hampshire on February 20, his only multi-point game of the season. Uens registered 23 shots on goal, took four minor penalties and finished the year with an even rating.

Kasper Puutio (Fifth Round - 153rd overall)

The Finnish defenseman scored two goals and added one assist and finished with a -6 rating in 29 games for Liiga’s Karpat club. He made one appearance in the postseason. Puutio was a teammate of Lundell’s on Finland’s World Junior Championship squad and appeared in all 7 games in Edmonton. He finished the tournament with two assists and a -1 rating.

Elliot Ekmark (Seventh Round - 198th overall)

Ekmark, 19, played 31 Swedish Hockey League games for Linkopings and scored one goal and finished with a -1 rating. He was much more at home with Linkopings J20 squad, where he posted 10 points (2G/8A) in seven games. Ekmark has good speed, but will need to show some signs of offensive ability against men if he wants to come to North America.

Devon Levi (Seventh Round - 212th overall)

The unheralded Levi became a sensation in his home country when he unexpectedly won the starting job for Team Canada at the World Junior Championship. Levi led his team to the silver medal, falling 2-0 in the final to the United States and fellow Panther prospect Spencer Knight. He was the tournament’s leading goaltender, finishing with a 6-1 record; 0.75 GAA; .964 save percentage; and 3 shutouts. A rib injury suffered in Edmonton cost him the rest of the season, as he didn’t make any appearances for Northeastern University. Levi will have a lot of eyes on him as he embarks on his NCAA career in the fall.