Florida Panthers Top 25 Under 25: #23 MacKenzie Weegar

The dynamic defenseman will be looking for bigger role, and bigger numbers, with the Portland Pirates this season.

MacKenzie Weegar

Position: D

Birthdate: 01/07/1994 (21)

Acquired: 7th round selection (#206 overall) 2013 NHL Entry Draft

2014-15 Team/League: San Antonio Rampage (AHL), Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL)

AHL Stats:

31 2 8 10 40 2

Nationality: Canadian

Size: 5'11", 207 pounds

Contract Status: Signed to ELC through 2016-17

Drafted in the seventh round in 2013 after piling up the points in two seasons with the QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads, Weegar had a bit of rough go of it during his first campaign in the professional ranks.

After raising expectations by putting on a dazzling show at the Panthers' 2014 prospects camp, the highly-skilled, offensive blueliner was dispatched to San Antonio for seasoning. After some early season struggles that included some time in the press box, he was sent down to Cincinnati to get more ice time and hone his game. Weegar eventually made his way back up to the AHL to finish the season with the Rampage.

From Hockey's Future:

Weegar attended training camp with the Panthers before being assigned to AHL affiliate San Antonio at the start of the 2014-15 season. Experiencing the ups-and-downs not uncommon for a 20-year-old in his first pro season, he has been a healthy scratch at times and briefly spent time with the ECHL's Cincinnati Cyclones. He appears to be making progress and has begun to display the playmaking ability that made him effective in junior hockey. Long-term his offensive instincts suggest he can be a valuable skating defenseman and power play quarterback at the NHL level one day. Weegar should add strength and bulk as he matures physically and refine his positional play with the Rampage — allowing him to reach that potential.

In his 31 games at the AHL level, he finished with 2 goals and 8 assists and somewhat encouragingly, posted a +2 rating. The offensive numbers aren't that shabby as they project to 24 points over a full 76-game AHL schedule, which isn't too bad for a first-year pro learning the ropes. He did much better against lesser ECHL competition with the Cyclones, where put up 13 points in 21 games and finished with a +4 rating on a team that ultimately missed the playoffs.

Weegar has seemingly proved his worth at the ECHL level and with some of the Cats' minor-league veterans out of the way, he should start the season with a bigger role and more ice time in Portland.

A seventh round pick is usually a throwaway, but Weegar has enough raw talent to force scouts and fans to take notice of him. If he can earn a spot as a regular with the Pirates and get some power play time, we could see a healthy increase in his offensive numbers, which would keep on track to become part of the Panthers blue line sometime in the future. That dynamic potential earned him the 23rd spot in our countdown.

Where We Voted for Weegar
Shane Todd JC Kevin Donny
25 NR NR 20 15
Who We Voted 23rd
Shane Todd JC Kevin Donny
Thomas Schemitsch Josh Brown Juho Lammikko Jayce Hawryluk

Garrett Wilson