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2023 Florida Panthers Prospect Profile: Zach Uens

Taken ten slots after the Florida Panthers made Mike Benning the first defenseman selected in the Bill Zito era, Zach Uens quickly become the second when the Cats grabbed him in the fourth round (105th overall) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

During his draft season, Uens played in all 34 games and amassed 18 points on four goals and 14 assists as a freshman for Merrimack College. He showed his physical side by leading the team with 68 penalty minutes and displayed a bit of an offensive touch by producing three multi-point games, including a two-assist performance against Boston University on January 17.

Prior to enrolling at Merrimack, Uens played two full seasons in the Junior A-level Ontario Junior Hockey League with the Wellington Dukes and attended the Vegas Golden Knights development camp in the summer of 2019.

Uens finished his sophomore campaign with one goal and six helpers, appearing in 14 of 18 games of the Warriors’ COVID-19 shortened schedule. His only goal came on the power play in a 6-2 loss to Connecticut on January 30, 2021. He had two assists in a 6-2 win over New Hampshire on February 20, which was his only multi-point game of the season. Uens registered 23 shots on goal, took four minor penalties and finished the year with a solid even rating. He blocked 18 shots, including four against Boston College on January 17, which equaled his single game career-high.

As a junior, Uens suited up in 34 games, scored twice and set college career-highs with 17 assists and 19 points. He registered 53 shots on goal, blocked 48 shots and finished with the season with 28 PIM. Uens posted two-assist games on November 12, 2021 against Maine and on February 26, 2022 at New Hampshire. His final NCAA goal was the only one the Warriors scored in a 6-1 loss at Northeastern on March 4.

Uens inked an entry-level contract with the Panthers on March 16 and made his professional debut with the Charlotte Checkers in a 2-1 win over the Providence Bruins a day later. He appeared in a total of six tilts with the Checkers and took one minor penalty and posted a minus-2 rating.

He attended the Panthers 2022 Development Camp and was part of the squad that took part in a four-team Prospects Showcase in North Carolina before attending the main camp for the first week. He was sent down to Charlotte on September 20.

In his first season as a professional, Uens spent time with both the Checkers and Florida Everblades. In 19 AHL games, he scored a goal, added three assists, accumulated 18 penalty minutes, and posted a minus-five rating. He reversed those offensive numbers (3G/1A) in 35 regular season games in the ECHL, going minus-seven and racking up 28 penalty minutes.

He gained valuable experience in the 2023 Kelly Cup Playoffs, appearing in 21 of 22 of the Everblades’ postseason games. He produced five assists as Florida, after finishing in fourth place in the South Division, took the league title by sweeping the Idaho Steelheads.

Uens is a strong skater who enjoys joining the rush and doesn’t mind getting physical in his own end. The 22-year-old’s focus for this season should be on earning a full-time role with the Checkers and continuing his development, which likely tops out as an NHL depth defenseman.