Panthers GM Dale Tallon made a name for himself being the guy who essentially built the Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup team in 2010.
When he took over the Florida Panthers in the summer of 2010, he knew he had to help build them from the ground up and his design is looking mighty familiar to what he did in Chicago.
Think of the players he drafted in Chicago that became Cup winners: Niklas Hjalmarsson (4th round – 2005), Jonathan Toews (3rd overall – 2006), Patrick Kane (1st overall – 2007), Marcus Kruger (5th round – 2009).
In Florida, he’s had more than his fair share of high first-round picks and looking at how he’s used them, the similarities to Chicago are eerie.
2010: Erik Gudbranson (D), Nick Bjugstad (C), Quinton Howden (F)
2011: Jonathan Huberdeau (F)
2012: Michael Matheson (D)
2013: Aleksander Barkov (C)
Next season’s Panthers roster could see five of those six players suiting up on opening night (Matheson is currently at Boston College).
Barkov is set to be Huberdeau’s set-up man and the parallels to those two possibly being the next Toews and Kane are there. Gudbranson came on a bit last season after getting his shoulder repaired and showed he can be a physically intimidating player.
If Bjugstad and Howden live up to their potential and Matheson emerges when he’s through with school, this Florida team could be very tough to beat… Eventually.