The Florida Panthers cruised into the 2021 NHL Draft on the tail-end of the best regular season in franchise history. While they didn’t trade any of this year’s picks, they did acquire Sam Reinhart from the Buffalo Sabres. In return, Florida shipped off its 2022 first-round pick and goaltending prospect Devon Levi to Buffalo. That trade may have overshadowed everything else the Panthers did, but it didn’t stop them from choosing the best players for their future.
Make sure to check out all of our other NHL Draft Recaps.
Mackie Samoskevich, RW, Chicago Steel-USHL (Round 1, Pick 24)
Evan Nause, D, Quebec Remparts-QMJHL (Round 2, Pick 56)
Vladislav Lukashevich, D, Loko Yaroslavl-MHL (Round 4, Pick 120)
Kirill Gerasimyuk, G, SKA-Varyagi im. Morozova-MHL (Round 5, Pick 152)
Jakub Kos, RW, Ilves-U20 SM-sarja (Round 6, Pick 184)
Braden Hache, D, Kingston Frontenacs-OHL (Round 7, Pick 210)
The Panther’s draft class consisted of two forwards, three defensemen, and one goaltender. General manager Bill Zito has chosen a bevy of individuals who are not only talented but will possibly fit into the environment the team has created on and off the ice.
Best Pick: Mackie Samoskevich
Despite being considered a reach as a first-round pick, Samoskevich is regarded as one of the most skilled offensive players in the draft. This past season, he recorded 13 goals and 24 assists for 37 points in 36 games. Then in the playoffs, he had one goal and nine assists for a total of 10 points in eight games. Samoskevich is committed to the University of Michigan, so fans can expect great things once he finally joins the Panthers on the ice.
Worst Pick: Braden Hache
If there’s a downside to choosing Hache, it’s that he did not play a single game in 2020-2021 thanks to the OHL not having any games. For the 2019-2020 season, he played 29 games with only five assists. He has a long way to go before ever being able to hit the ice for the Panthers.
Sleeper Pick: Evan Nause
Nause is an excellent skater with a high hockey IQ. He was the 22nd North American skater in the Draft, and Elite Prospects had him as the 25th overall prospect. This past season, he led all rookie defensemen in the QMJHL with 22 points in 32 regular-season games. Nause has proven himself to be excellent in both zones and is able to find a way to take away from the opposition and battle for pucks.
The Panthers didn’t make any bad choices at this year’s draft. Luckily they knew they were drafting for the future and felt comfortable taking players who’ll be along in a few years. The front office knows their current roster are contenders and will need support down the road. This year’s draft was the perfect time to set a plan for the future in motion, and the Panthers didn’t disappoint.
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