What the Panthers Should Do with the #2 Pick
Next Sunday, Dale Tallon and the Florida Panthers will have to make a tremendously vital decision, maybe the biggest the franchise has ever had to make: who to select with the #2 overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Now, which player Florida chooses is all dependent on who the Avalanche draft with the first selection, but the team will most likely be adding a forward to their already impressive prospect rankings.
The skater that the Panthers would like to take is Nathan MacKinnon, who scored seventy points and was a +40 this season and took home Memorial Cup MVP honors, leading all players with thirteen points and seven goals over the duration of the tournament. He was the foremost reason why his team, the Halifax Mooseheads, was triumphant over the Portland Winterhawks in the final.
MacKinnon is widely considered to be the most NHL-ready forward available in this upcoming draft since he can score at a high rate and doesn’t get knocked off the puck easily like his line mate, Jonathan Drouin, sometimes does. He’s a great skating true center who is explosive and has a great shot, comparable to 2008 first overall draft pick Steven Stamkos.
However, over the last couple of days, Colorado Avalanche former superstar and now Director of Player Personnel Joe Sakic has stated multiple times that the team will pass up on Seth Jones and draft a forward if they don’t trade the pick. I believe that this is a bluff in order to get another team to make a lucrative trade offer for the #1 pick, but if he’s telling the truth, the Avalanche may take MacKinnon and leave the Panthers with a very tough decision. Jones will without a doubt be a franchise defenseman, but Florida is already deep at the position and desperately has needed a superstar forward ever since the departure of Olli Jokinen back in 2008.
Most of the rumors out there have been that Sakic and Colorado like Aleksander Barkov, a strong power forward from Finland, more than MacKinnon though. If the Avalanche were to select Barkov, the decision would be made much easier for the Panthers and they’d just have to decide whether or not they wanted a defenseman or forward, Jones or MacKinnon. I wouldn’t be upset if the Cats drafted any of those three players or Drouin, but MacKinnon is definitely the best fit for the team that finished dead last in the league last season.
Can you imagine a line of Mackinnon centering Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau and possibly a free agent addition or a player like Kris Versteeg? They’d score at least 130-150 points between the three of them and would definitely be a top ten first line in the league.
Florida needs a dominant center like Nathan MacKinnon right now and drafting anyone else would almost make this draft a failure for the team. If Colorado does wind up selecting him, I’d advise the Panthers to trade their pick to Calgary for a combination of two or three of their first round picks.