The Florida Panthers will open their development camp at the Saveology.com Iceplex in Coral Springs Fla. on Monday July 2.
There is electricity in the air in South Florida right now. The Cats made the playoffs last year for the first time in more than a decade and there are some young guns in the organization that will make an impact as early as next year. There are a few guys in particular to keep an eye on at this year's camp.
This kid is simply amazing. The Panthers took him in the 1st round (3rd overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He's been refining his chops with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for the last couple of years and may be ready for the NHL next season. Last season Huberdeau scored a total of 72 points in only 37 games played. In the 2010-11 he blistered the Q with 105 points in 67 games played. Huberdeau could very well be the future of the franchise if he can keep up the pace and I fully expect to see him on the ice in South Florida next season.
The pride of the University of Minnesota will probably play for the Gophers again next season. Bjugstad is still in college but it looks like he's got a bright future in the NHL. Bjugstad is a big power center at 6-5 and 211 pounds. Last year he led the Gophers with 25 goals scored in 40 games. Not only can he drive the net his size allows him to be a force on defense as well.
Howden has been on fire for the last few years. He's spent the last five seasons with the Moosejaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League where he tallied 65 points in only 52 games played in the 2011-12 season. It seems that Howden has the talent to make next season's team but he'll still have to earn that right at the Panthers' camp.
The 2012 development camp will be open to the public and will last from Monday July 1 to Friday July 6. It's a great chance for fans to pretend to be NHL scouts and see some of the Panthers' future stars. Most of these kids may be a few seasons away from wearing an NHL sweater but there's a couple that may be ready to go as soon as next season.
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All draft and development camp information taken from FloridaPantheres.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