SUNRISE — Buoyed by the ovation from the BB&T Center crowd, Lawson Crouse strode confidently up to the stage after the hometown Florida Panthers had drafted him with the 11th overall pick.
But he might’ve expected to hear his name called sooner.
Crouse went into the draft ranked No. 5 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. However, the big winger had to sit and watch as a handful of players who’d been ranked below him got taken before him.
Perhaps it was his modest point totals with the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs — just 51 of them in 56 games in 2014-15 — that convinced other teams to pass.
“I don’t think my points were horrible, but I know they can improve, and I know there is a long ways to go,” Crouse conceded Thursday.
“I do a lot of other things well. That’s the part of my game that stands out for me.”
To be fair, the Frontenacs were a mediocre team that didn’t score many goals. Crouse actually led them in scoring.
In Florida, he’ll join an up-and-coming group that came into today’s draft hoping to “add one more final piece to the core that will be our core for hopefully close to the next 10 years.”