Panthers fail to sign pair of 2011 draft picks

The deadline to sign remaining non-collegiate and KHL picks from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft has passed, and the Panthers have lost the rights to two prospects.

All 30 NHL teams had until June 1st to sign their remaining picks from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, with the exception of college and Russian prospects. The remaining picks for the Panthers were defensemen Rasmus Bengtsson and forward Iiro Pakarinen.

The decision to not sign Pakarinen isn't surprising. A seventh round pick, 184th overall, Pakarinen was drafted in his second year of eligibility and his numbers in SM-liiga (top hockey league in Finland, and second strongest in Europe) have not been impressive. The 21-year-old has played 171 games in Finland, scoring only 43 career points (0.25 points per game). Due to his age, the Panthers would have been forced to sign Pakarinen to a three year contract.

However, the failure to sign Bengtsson is a puzzling one. Bengtsson was drafted in the second round, 59th overall, was a member of the silver medal Swedish squad at the 2013 World Juniors, and even attended training camp with the San Antonio Rampage last season. Bengtsson was ranked the 13th best prospect for the Panthers by Hockey Prospectus, ranked 20th by Hockey's Future, and was ranked the 10th best European skater at the 2011 Draft. He spent the last two seasons with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL, scoring 34 points (only three goals) in 83 games.

Bengtsson is set to re-enter the draft, and will join Pakarinen in becoming a UFA, if he's not drafted.