2015 seventh-rounder Patrick Shea turning heads at Kimball Union

192nd overall pick tearing it up in final season before enrolling at Maine

The road to the NHL, for most, is a long and hard one, especially if you are selected in one of the later rounds of the annual Entry Draft, especially the seventh. Florida Panthers prospect Patrick Shea has his sights set on being one of those lucky few that beats the odds and is taking a big first step towards that goal with a breakout second season at Kimball Union Academy, a prep school located in Meriden, New Hampshire.

In June, the Panthers scooped up Shea, who didn't think he was going to get drafted after failing to go in the first six rounds, with the first of their two seventh-round picks (192nd overall) after the somewhat under-the-radar forward scored 19 goals and 20 assists in 33 games for the Wildcats. After putting up 55 points in 21 games to lead Marshfield High in scoring as a junior, the Marshfield, MA native made the move to Kimball Union looking to prove himself against a higher level of competition.

Shea attended the Panthers' development camp this past summer and has used the eye-opening experience as a springboard. After flirting with the idea of joining the USHL's Youngstown Phantoms, the 18-year-old center decided to return to Kimball and is putting last year's numbers to shame. Shea, who serves as the team's captain, has racked up 63 points (24G/39A) in 31 games, leading his team to a stellar 27-3-1 record. The Wildcats are currently ranked second in Division 1 New England Prep Hockey heading into the playoffs.

Panthers amateur scout Billy Ryan had this to say:

Pat Shea is a fast, hard-nosed two-way center. His work ethic and compete level is off the charts. He has a mean streak that makes him very tough to play against. Offensively, he has the ability to make plays at top speed. He has a quick release and can finish. He consistently out works his opponents to put himself in scoring situations. He has a bright future ahead of him.

Kimball Union Academy's head coach Tim Whitehead added this about his captain:

Patrick is a hard-nosed competitor who excels in all situations for us; PP, PK, DZ, FO's; first & last minute. This kid has a big motor and he's tough as nails.

Shea is committed to the University of Maine and will begin his NCAA career with the Black Bears next season. The storied Maine program has a long history of turning out professional players, so the Cats' prospect will be in good hands as he takes the next step in his development towards his ultimate goal of donning a Florida Panthers sweater and skating in the NHL. Due to being a long-range prospect who went in a lower round, Shea might not get as much press as some of Florida's other recent draftees, but this is a kid you are going to want to keep an eye on over the next few years.

* LBC would like to thank KUA's Tim Whitehead and Panthers scout Billy Ryan for kindly taking the time to contribute to this article. A big thanks also to Gary Demopoulos and Jamie Callery at Hockey Night In Boston for allowing me to use one of their pictures of Pat Shea in game action. HNIB has got you covered for all things (stories, poll, highlights, etc.) New England high school and prep school hockey, so check out the site here and give them a follow on twitter @HNIBonline.