Top prospect Jayce Hawryluk ready to make pro hockey debut

Image courtesy of @turbuL3NT2 / COTP Photography
Image courtesy of @turbuL3NT2 / COTP Photography
It’s been a long time coming, but Jayce Hawryluk is set to make his AHL debut on Friday with the Springfield Thunderbirds. 

Update, 12/1/16: After being held out of last weekend’s home-and-home series against the Hershey Bears, Jayce Hawryluk will make his AHL and pro hockey debut on Friday, December 2nd at home against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

The Thunderbirds’ coaching staff opted to not have Hawryluk face Jakub Vrana – who he broke his hand on – in his first 2 games back, so he’ll suit up Friday and skate on the top line with Jared McCann and Paul Thompson. That trio will join with Thomas Schemitsch and Chase Balisy on the team’s top power play unit.

Stay tuned to @fla_prospects on Twitter for coverage of Hawryluk’s debut.

Original article, 11/24:

Ranked as the Panthers’ best prospect after Mike Matheson – who looks to be in the NHL for good now – Hawryluk was cleared to play twice this week by doctors, per sources, after breaking his hand in September during a fight with Capitals’ prospect Jakub Vrana during the 4-team prospect tournament in Coral Springs.

Hawryluk was originally expected to miss about 4 to 6 weeks, and he had been training with the Thunderbirds shortly after his cast came off just under a month ago and looked to be nearing a return. However, he suffered a setback towards the end of October and that forced him to miss an additional 3 weeks.

The 20-year old right winger is about 6 months removed from his 4th and final season of junior hockey in the WHL where he tallied a career-high 47 goals, 59 assists, and 106 points in 58 games played for the Brandon Wheat Kings. He went on to add another 30 points in 21 playoff games while helping to lead his team to a WHL championship title.

His points total ranked him 4th in the league while his goals total ranked him 2nd despite playing in 14 fewer games than the leaders of both categories.

Drafted with the 2nd pick of the second round at the 2014 Draft, Hawryluk was pushing hard to make the Panthers’ roster out of camp and was certainly one of the more likely candidates to do so prior to going down with the injury.

The Roblin, Manitoba-native signed his entry-level contract back on March 1st.

The Panthers’ AHL affiliate is in need of some offense, and they’ll get that with Hawryluk joining the team as well as Jared McCann and Greg McKegg who were both sent down this week. The Thunderbirds are currently without two centers in Graham Black and Brody Sutter, who are both injured, and have struggled to produce on the power play, which is currently ranked 25th with a 13.0 percent success rate.

Springfield, losers of 4 straight games, assigned Panthers’ prospect Thomas Schemitsch and Rihards Bukarts, who’s on an AHL contract, down to the ECHL on Tuesday.

Hawryluk will wear number 8 with the Thunderbirds and will face Vrana and the Hershey Bears on Friday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.

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