Florida Panthers 20 under 21: #11 Miguel Fidler

Added size has hard-working forward on the rise

20-year-old left wing Miguel Fidler came to play at development camp this summer, and the time spent playing at Ohio State appears to be paying off. Because of that, Fidler is just outside the top-10 on our list.

#11 - Miguel Fidler- Left Wing - Ohio State University (NCAA)

Highest Ranking:  12  Lowest Ranking: 15

Like many others we have examined in this series, Miguel Fidler was not a draft pick that left Florida Panthers fans salivating. SB Nation’s NCAA hockey blog did not pen an overly optimistic report about him in June of 2014:

Fidler is a most likely on the borderline between a late round pick and going undrafted. While he may not have the upside of some other prospects in the draft, Fidler does provide some unique skills that could make him intriguing enough for an NHL team to pull the trigger on drafting him in the late rounds and hoping he pans out.

The Edina, Minnesota native is the son of a former Hartford Whaler, Michael Fidler (who played for Boston University). Fidler was drafted in the late rounds in 2014. The Panthers came calling in the 5th round (143rd overall) of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

Fidler was- and continues- to be known for an effective, edgy-game, with limited offensive output. Hockey’s Future indicated that he fits the Panthers “hard to play against” mold with his “agitating style,” rather than as an offensive producer. This was noted in and around the draft by Ohio State advanced stats blogging pundits:

Fidler's underlying advanced stats seem to point toward a Bottom 6 role for him at the next level.... A high level offensive forward should easily eclipse what Fidler has done so far, but he hasn't yet.

Last season was Fidler’s first at Ohio State, playing major NCAA hockey in the Big Ten Conference. He did not set the world on fire in Columbus, but he had to deal with injuries early in the season. He also played for a veteran-laden Buckeyes team that led to him being a healthy (freshman) scratch at times. In 20 games for the Buckeyes, he scored 3 goals and added 4 assists (7 points), to go with a -3 rating and 14 penalty minutes. Late in the season he did gain the coaches confidence, and that bodes well for 2016-17. But it has become apparent that something positive also came from his first year of college hockey: he got bigger. Fidler is 6’0” and 192 lbs., and has added considerable muscle to his frame.

Why, with all of this less than impressive information, do we have Fidler as high as we do on our list? It begins with the fact that he has gotten bigger and stronger. His skating and strength raised an eyebrow or two at Development Camp this summer. Upon returning to Ohio State this year he is likely to gain playing time as the team is younger than last year’s and he did impress the coaching staff later in the season. With that combination of size and strength, and added playing time, we can hope that Fidler will continue to quietly develop his game.

This is not a player that Panther fans should get excited about. What we can be hopeful about, however, is that Fidler can continue to develop into a usable 4th line option or injury call-up from the AHL. That type of player is very useful to the organization, and turnover in that role has suddenly reared its head with the loss of Garrett Wilson and Corban Knight not being re-signed. Logan Shaw is on a short-term contract, and suddenly the Cats are looking a tad bit thin in the 4th line call-up position for the next several years if Shaw and Connor Brickley are not extended next year. With that understanding, Fidler’s progression is important and notable, and his sudden showing at development camp in that role was important. Because of that, he earns #11 on our list.