With the 10th overall pick at the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago, the Panthers selected right winger Owen Tippett from the Ontario Hockey League’s Mississauga Steelheads.
Regarded as one of the best pure goal scorers available at this year’s draft, Tippett lit the lamp 44 times – good for 5th in the league – for the Steelheads this season, which was only his second in the OHL.
He led his team in scoring – posting 17 more goals than the next highest player – and saw a 55-point increase over his rookie season.
In the league’s annual Coaches Poll, Tippett was voted number 1 in the categories of “Most Dangerous In The Goal Area” and “Best Shot” in the Eastern Conference. He was ranked 7th among North American skaters by the NHL’s Central Scouting.
Tippett immediately becomes one of the best scoring prospects in the Panthers’ system and fills an area of need on right wing.
His NHL-caliber shot makes him a high-end shooting talent as he can score from virtually anywhere inside the offensive zone.
The 18-year old native of Peterborough, Ontario was asked to tell Panthers fans what the team is getting in him.
“An offensively-skilled forward that uses his shot and speed to his advantage as well as the capability to make plays,” he said.
Tippett was Mississauga’s triggerman at the face-off circle on the power play and even skated on the team’s top penalty-killing unit. He’s an incredibly fast skater and has the ability to accelerate past opposing players or drive to the net in the blink of an eye.
“We’ll give him every opportunity to play [in the NHL] this year,” said General Manager Dale Tallon. “[Myself and our coaching staff] don’t have any issues playing young guys. We’re building a team that’s gonna be around for a long time.”
At 6’2′, 203 pounds, Tippett possesses a thick frame that is just about NHL-ready – and his offensive ability will tempt the Panthers’ brass – but he’ll likely need to round out the other parts of his game before he makes the transition to the pro level.
Of course, there’s no telling what will become of Tippett as he develops. Odds are he turns into a solid NHL player, but even if he doesn’t, it was the right pick to make.
It’s a great sign for a team finally making a real effort to address a long-standing organizational need through the draft.
The Panthers have prioritized many different things with their draft picks in the past, but never have they drafted a player labeled as a pure goal scorer with a legitimate chance to make a big impact in the NHL.
“What we needed on our depth chart was a sniper,” said Tallon, “a player that could score, a shooter, because we have a lot of passers and playmakers.”
“[Tippett’s] got an innate ability to find open holes; he’s a shooter. So that’s what we need.”
The Panthers seem to be really excited about this selection, just as they were with Henrik Borgstrom a year ago, and it seems as though this is yet another example of stats and scouts coming together to make a well-informed decision.
Tippett is expected to be in attendance at the Panthers’ Development Camp which kicks off on Tuesday at the Panthers’ Ice Den in Coral Springs.
The 2017 NHL Draft will conclude on Sunday at 10 AM Eastern with rounds 2 through 7. The Panthers currently own one pick each in rounds 2, 3, 5, and 6.
The Panthers announced on Friday morning that they hired Jack Capuano as the team’s associate coach.
Capuano will run the Panthers’ defense and penalty kill under recently-hired head coach Bob Boughner.
The 50-year old former defenseman played 124 NCAA games, 6 NHL games, and 170 AHL games before serving as the head coach and general manager of the ECHL’s Pee Dee Pride from 1997 through 2005.
“I am extremely excited to join the Florida Panthers organization,” said Capuano. “I want to thank Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu for putting their trust in me and Dale for giving me an opportunity to work with Bob, one of the great young minds in the game.
“My familiarity with the Panthers has grown a lot throughout the past few years and I’m eager to work with such a young, talented group of players.”
He then served as the New York Islanders’ assistant coach during the 2005-06 season before taking over the head coach of their AHL affiliate for the next 5 years.
Capuano, a native of Rhode Island, compiled a record of 227-192-64 as the head coach of the New York Islanders from 2011 through this past season. He coached the Islanders to a first-round victory over the Panthers during the opening round of the 2016 Playoffs.
“I am thrilled to welcome Jack to our coaching staff,” said Boughner “He is a knowledgeable and experienced voice to have behind our bench that will work well with our young players.”