Florida Panthers – B
First Round Pick: Grigori Denisenko (LW) (15)
There are real size concerns with Grigori Denisenko. He’s 5-foot-11 and 171 pounds. He might add some muscle in the coming years, but he’s not going to hit some big growth spurt. Being an undersized forward means he has an uphill battle right from the start. Thankfully, he has the skills and heart to make up for his size. He plays hard on every shift, isn’t afraid to battle on the boards, and can undress defenders and goalies. The Panthers chose to ignore his size and look at his skill and toughness. It might backfire, which is why their overall grade isn’t quite as high. Denisenko will play in the KHL next season and if his body holds up there, he’ll likely make the NHL leap shortly after.
Other Notable Picks: Serron Noel (RW) (34)
Noel was ranked by some as being the best available player on Day 2 of the draft. Florida didn’t have to wait long to select him. He’s a big kid with a knack for putting up points. The Panthers went undersized in the first round and oversized in the second round. The Panthers found more value in the third round, selection Logan Hutsko.
There’s nothing bad about Florida’s draft, but nothing spectacular either. A lot will hinge on whether Denisenko’s size holds him back or not. Noel should end up being a second round steal, which helps their overall grade. All in all, a solid draft for a team stuck in the middle.