It looks like the Florida Panthers are still going with a youth movement. On July 20 the Panthers' general manager Dale Tallon announced that the team traded their 2014 fifth round draft pick to the New York Rangers for Casey Wellman.
Wellman is young but he's already got some pretty impressive experience under his belt. In the last three seasons he has played in a total of 41 NHL games and in that time period Wellman has put up seven points at the NHL level.
Wellman's real success so far in his career has been at the minor league level. He left the University of Massachusetts during the 2009-10 season when he was signed as an undrafted free-agent by the Minnesota Wild. The next season Wellman only played a handful of games with the Wild but he skated in 42 games for the Wild's AHL affiliate, the Huston Aeros. In the 2010-11 season with the Aeros Wellman racked up 14 goals and 21 assists.
Last season Wellman split his time between the NHL and AHL. In 2011-12 he played a total of 47 games in the AHL with the Aeros and the Connecticut Whale and scored a total of 47 points. An average of one point per game is good for any player. His numbers with the Wild weren't as good. Last season Wellman put up seven points in 14 games played at the NHL level.
Wellman isn't the kind of guy that is going to change the team but he's a great plug-in for the Panthers on the right wing, a position where they lack in depth. Wellman is only a few years out of college and is still a prospect in the making. His current production is good but he's still got the potential to be much better. The best thing of all is Tallon got the kid for a steal. Fifth round draft picks are generally hit or miss and it looks like this kid, who is only 24 years old, has been making a hit in the AHL for several years now.
This isn't a big-time acquisition but it's a key move on a good player that will help the team in depth this season and in the future. The best thing about the deal is the Panthers didn't have to give up a lot on a kid who has the potential to be in the NHL for a long time to come. Tallon may not be making the big blockbuster moves this off-season but he's making all the right small ones.
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All transaction details from FloridaPanthers.com
Kristian Eberwein is a freelance journalist from Orlando, Florida. He was an English major at the University of Central Florida and has been a part of the Florida hockey community for the past twenty years. Follow him on Twitter @KrisEberwein