Going into the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, we know one thing for certain– Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin will be taken with the first two picks.
But who will be taken third overall by the rebuilding Florida Panthers?
Although we need to wait until the 25th of the month, lets narrow down some of the prime targets for a team with a new GM ready to build his team in his image. As Steve Gorten of The Sun-Sentinel points out, this draft may define Tallon’s legacy with the team.
The former Blackhawk GM clearly understands his role and need to make an impact with his new team:
Tallon has called this an important draft, “a tremendous opportunity” to start to “rebuild the basement” of an organization that has too few “assets.”
“The goal, obviously, is to build from within and to have 20 draft picks on the ice – have our own,” Tallon said. “That’s a huge goal, but I think it’s doable and that’s what we’re going to achieve here.”
In the past, Tallon selected Jonathan Toews with his only 3rd overall pick. He did not take him until his second year, however, after selecting potential bust Jack Skille in the process. In other words, Tallon did not waste a top five pick on a defender like his predecessor Bob Pulford did when he took Cam Barker 3rd overall in 2004.
Following that same strategy, lets assume Tallon wants to take a no-brainer, talented forward with size and NHL readiness. After the Tyler/Taylor two-headed monster Brett Connolly looks like the consensus third forward to be selected. The right winger, who comes out of the WHL, could go as high as three or fall out of the top ten due to a nagging hip injury.
Mikael Granlund and Vladamir Tarasenko may also be the safest bet as they both could be NHL ready. The former lacks size but makes up for it with a gritty style of play and excellent playmaking ability. Tarasenko most likely plays the most skilled game outside the top two but will drop due to the transfer agreement in Russia.
Historically, the Panthers have taken high-profile Russian players. They selected Dmitry Kulikov last draft and stuck him in their lineup right away. They also traded away a king’s ransom for Pavel Bure albeit way before the lockout and lack of transfer agreement.
Will the Panthers make the safe choice in taking consensus number three pick Cam Fowler? Will they go off the board with a European talent? Will they select Connolly despite all the injuries?
Clearly the actions of the Panthers will be one of the hottest discussions come draft time. Let your voice be heard in the comments or complain about my slight grammatical errors below.