The Florida Panthers’ 2021 NHL Entry Draft is in the books and the Panthers, coming off the best regular season in franchise history, loaded up on defensive help after taking a skilled forward in the first round.
The final breakdown has Florida with three defensemen, two forwards and a goaltender among its six picks.
Reminder: By and large, these players won’t join the Panthers anytime soon. Most Americans will go play college hockey for a few years and most foreigners will stay in junior leagues while Florida will retain their rights.
Here’s a quick look at each of the six Draft picks:
1 (24): Mackie Samoskevich, RW, USHL Chicago
Samoskevich, 18, was considered a bit of a reach in the first round, but also regarded as one of the most skilled offensive players in the Draft. The 5-foot-11, 191-pound right wing scored 13 goals and 24 assists for the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League last season, and is headed to the Michigan Wolverines to play for a team with national-championship aspirations. He ranked him as the No. 25 overall prospect, according to the NHL Central Scouting Bureau, and is originally from Newtown, Connecticut.
2 (56): Evan Nause, D, QMJHL Quebec
Nause has a good combination of size and speed, and contributed four goals and 18 assists for the Quebec Remparts of Canada’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season. The 6-2, 186-pound Canadian was viewed as a borderline first-round pick and Florida was able to land him after he fell into the back half of the second. He was the No. 22 North American skater in the Draft and EliteProspects.com actually ranked him as the No. 25 overall prospect in the class.
The 22nd ranked North American skater for the #NHLDraft, Evan Nause of the @quebec_remparts, likes to watch a lot of Josh Morrissey and Duncan Keith.#MeetTheFuture | @KubotaCanadaLtd pic.twitter.com/GRwMSxDxID
— Canadian Hockey League (@CHLHockey) July 17, 2021
4 (120): Vladislav Lukashevich, D, Russia
Lukashevich is still small at 6-2 and 167 pounds, but he’s a gifted puck-moving defenseman, who had three goals and 16 assists in 36 games last season in Russia’s Junior Hockey League (MHL) for Loko Yaroslavl . The 18-year-old was the No. 31 European skater in the class.
5 (152): Kirill Gerasimyuk, G, Russia
The Panthers traded away a goaltender prospect Saturday to land forward Sam Reinhart, so they used their fifth-round pick to draft a potential replacement. Gerasimyuk, 17, had a 2.59 goals against average and .931 save percentage in 27 games for SKA Varyagi last season in the MHL. The 6-2, 188-pound goalie was a top-100 overall prospect in EliteProspects’ pre-Draft rankings.
6 (184): Jakub Kos, RW, Czech Republic
Florida went back to offense in the sixth round, grabbing the Czech right wing with one of its final picks in the Draft. Kos, 17, had five goals and 13 assists in 32 games last season for Ilves’ U20 team in Finland’s U20 SM-sarja. The 6-2, 187-pound forward also played for the Czech Republic in the 2021 IIHF World U18 Championships, and had a goal and an assist in five games.
7 (210): Braden Hache, D, OHL Kingston
The Panthers rounded out their Draft by taking a third defenseman. Hache, 18, plays for the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League, which canceled its most recent season because of COVID-19 concerns. The 6-3, 201-pound defenseman had five assists in 29 games two seasons ago.