Florida Panthers 20 under 21: #9 Jonathan Ang

Speedy Pete is on the rise

Part of the haul the Florida Panthers got back from Vancouver for Erik Gudbranson was a fourth-round pick in 2016. They used that pick on the next player on our countdown.

#9 - Jonathan Ang - forward - Peterborough (OHL)

Highest Ranking:  10  Lowest Ranking: 11

The Panthers choose Jonathan Ang with the 92nd overall pick at this summer’s draft in Buffalo after the 5’,11” center/right wing put up 21 goals and 28 assists in 68 games for the Peterborough Petes. Those numbers represented a 29-point increase over his first season in the OHL. In the 2015-16 playoffs,  Ang upped his game by posting 9 points (3G/6A) in the Peterborough’s seven-game loss to North Bay in the first round. Brock Otten, who knows a thing or two about OHL had this to say about Ang:

Closed out the season exceptionally well and I was really disappointed that he didn't get an invite to the U18's. In his final 22 games (including the playoffs), Ang had 10 goals and 13 assists, averaging over a point per game. While he saw a lot of time at center early in the year, it wasn't until he shifted to the wing where he found a lot of success. Playing the wing allows him to use his speed (among the best in this draft class) to his advantage and play a simpler game. I give him a lot of credit for improving his play away from the puck as this season progressed too. By season's end he was using his speed to be disruptive on the forecheck and the backcheck. To go with blinding speed, Ang also possesses terrific hands and stick handling ability, which makes him very difficult to stop one on one. Really the only thing he's missing is strength and size. I'm definitely way more convinced of him being a serious NHL prospect than I was 4 months ago. His performance in the playoffs is indicative of that. But I'm hoping he stays on the wing.

Moving from center to wing seemed to get Ang’s game in another gear. The switch was probably a good thing for Ang’s future with the Cats as well. With Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck and Nick Bjugstad anchoring Florida’s top three lines, moving to the wing will afford him a much better chance of cracking the big club once he’s fully-developed. Florida needs young wings in the system that can score, as Jaromir Jagr and Jussi Jokinen aren’t getting any younger and scoring depth in the bottom-six is always a prized possession.

While Ang is fast, creative and good on the puck, some scouting reports were critical of defensive play, so that’s an area he will need to work on when he returns to Peterborough. The Draft Analyst’s Steve Kournianos wrote this about Ang when he predicted he’d go in the sixth round in his mock draft:

Creative speedster with the ability to fight through a dense network of opposing checkers. Ang is not only fast and skilled, but he has excellent on-ice awareness and overall hockey sense. His biggest issue is size, as he’s listed at 5’11 but with a meager playing weight of 165 pounds. He’s terrific in the open, which goes without saying. But Ang isn’t your typical amateur roadrunner who relies solely on quickness to achieve results. He’s dedicated towards making the right decisions that are in the team’s best interests rather than for personal gain, and you will see Ang — as fast as he is — dig in and lend support to his defensemen below the circles or along the boards. Whether or not he makes an impact isn’t the point — he’s a offensive dynamo he clearly understands there’s more to the game than scoring. Ang is slippery with the puck and uses his hands to finish off plays from in tight. If you play the puck, you’re begging for a crooked number on the scoreboard.

Despite having a few flaws in his game, Ang’s performance once he was shifted to wing is very encouraging. He should continue to improve as he grows even more comfortable with the position and develops more of a shoot-first mentality. A big season in Peterborough could earn the Markham, ON an entry-level contract at the end of the season although his January 31, birth date means he would need to go back for a fourth season of junior if he didn’t make the Panthers, so there is no hurry to ink him.