Panthers general manager Dale Tallon is hoping the reward for a nightmare season is a future franchise player that can step into the lineup and contribute right away.
On June 30, Florida will pick second overall at the draft in Newark.
“We’re hopeful,” Tallon told NHL.com. “We’re going to be a young team. It’s going to be a necessary part of our puzzle moving forward. I would hope the guy we select can play for us next year.”
Portland defenseman Seth Jones and Halifax forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin are the consensus top three prospects.
While the Panthers finished last in both scoring and defense in 2013, the future could be bright with one of the above three, along with 19-year-old center Jonathan Huberdeau, a finalist for rookie of the year, and other promising youngsters like Erik Gudbranson, Jacob Markstrom, Nick Bjugstad, Dmitry Kulikov, and Rocco Grimaldi.