Florida Panthers Prospect Profile: John Ludvig

19-year-old defenseman enjoys breakout season in Portland

The Florida Panthers selected defenseman John Ludvig in the third round (69th overall) at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft back in June at Rogers Place in Vancouver after he went undrafted the year prior.

The season prior to being chosen by the Cats, Ludvig played in 58 games with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks and produced 5 goals and 13 assists to go along with 77 PIM and rather gaudy +38 rating.

I had previously done two check-ins (November and January) with Florida’s group of 2019 draftees as they began the 2019-20 season, so we’ll start with that text and then see how he finished off the campaign before it was first postponed on March 12, and then ultimately canceled six days later due to the coronavirus.

November: Many draftniks considered the over-aged Ludvig a reach when the Panthers selected him 69th overall. However, it looks Tallon Inc. knew exactly what they were doing when they scooped up this Portland Winterhawks defender. The 19-year-old is blossoming offensively in his third WHL season. After producing a combined total of 7 goals and 25 points in his first two campaigns in the league, this season Ludvig is up to nine goals and 20 points in 23 games. While he has managed to increase his scoring totals to an unexpected degree, he has not lost the physical edge to his game.

January: Ludvig has played in all 46 games for Portland which gives us a tidy 23/23 split to analyze his numbers since November. After scoring nine times in the first 23 games, he has unsurprisingly cooled off a bit in that department with only four goals since then. However, he has kept up his overall offensive numbers by racking up 18 assists in the last 23 tilts. With 42 points in 46 games, fourth best in the league for a defenseman, and +41 rating (second best in the WHL), Ludvig continues to outpace expectations. As a member of one of the league’s top teams, Ludvig could be in for a long postseason run and might be playing himself into an entry-level contract in the near future.

May: Hit the nail on the head with that last sentence as the Panthers inked Ludvig to an entry-level contract on March 30. In the last 14 games of the WHL season, he increased his level of production by amassing 20 points (that’s 1.43 points per game) and rediscovered his goal-scoring touch from the earlier portion of the schedule by bagging eight goals. Ludvig’s 62 points were fourth best on his team and third most among WHL defensemen while his +46 rating was the second highest mark on the Winterhawks behind Seth Jarivs’ +53 and fourth highest in the league. His 207 shots on goal was third highest total on the squad and he finished with 57 PIM. This is a very involved player.

After his breakout season in the WHL, it will interesting to see what the plan is for Ludvig for the upcoming season. Will he return to the Winterhawks, a club that looked like serious contenders for a league championship and perhaps even for the Memorial Cup before the season was scrapped? Or will he turn pro and begin his career with the Panthers in the American League as he will be eligible as he will turn 20 on August 2? I don’t think he has much left to prove in the CHL and he definitely has the talent, and at 6’1” and 205 lbs to compete effectively in the AHL. Unfortunately, chances are, due to the uncertainty regarding the start date of the NHL’s 2020-21 season and the training camp that proceeds it, Ludvig will wind up back in Portland.

What does Ludvig’s future hold?

NHL top pairing5
NHL middle pairing24
NHL bottom pairing5
NHL/AHL “tweener”7
Strictly minor-league fodder1