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Florida's all-time draft team: Cats keep it current

The Panthers' all-time all-drafted team is carried by the best players in Florida today, from the high-flying first line to the entrenched No. 1 defenseman.
USA Today

USA Today

The Florida Panthers' all-time all-drafted team features a familiar first line and No. 1 defenseman. Overall, there isn't an overabundance of firepower, but it's a squad with a strong defensive conscience thanks to a fleet of two-way forwards and a big, sturdy defense corps.

The goaltending? It looks like a weak spot, but Jacob Markstrom is coming off his best NHL season and Kevin Weekes was a proven backup, so let's give them a chance before forcing Roberto Luongo to come out of retirement. (Luongo, remember, was drafted by the New York Islanders, not Florida.)

Up front, we kept the Cats' current top line intact, with Aleksander Barkov between franchise scoring leader Jonathan Huberdeau and Evgenii Dadonov. Dadonov doesn't have the NHL career numbers of some of the right wingers below him on the depth chart, but he's scored at a 70-point pace over the past three seasons after coming back to the NHL following several seasons in Russia. Plus, he has good chemistry with Barkov and Huberdeau, who stand out as the two best offensive players ever drafted by the Panthers.

Stephen Weiss, Florida's all-time leader in games played, holds down the pivot position on the second unit, flanked by power forward Nathan Horton on the right side and silky Kristian Huselius on the left. Weiss brings scoring, playmaking and a defensive mindset, while Horton crashes and bangs for goals and Huselius uses his skating and stick skills to dazzle.

The third line features Rob Niedermayer, the franchise's first-ever draft pick at fifth overall in 1993, in his rightful role as a physical, checking center. Michael Frolik, a Selke Trophy-caliber defensive winger who can score some shorties, is slotted in at right wing, with David Booth on the left side to give the unit a shooter. Vincent Trocheck, Radek Dvorak and Niklas Hagman combine to give the fourth line an all-around dose of offense and defense.

On the blueline, it's a couple of No. 1 overall picks in current linchpin Aaron Ekblad and franchise all-timer Ed Jovanovski on the top pairing, providing an intimidating blend of skill and snarl. This duo will play a ton of minutes, including special teams, and be out on the ice for any crucial situation.

The second pairing isn't flashy, but they can get the job done at both ends. Opponents aren't going to fool Jay Bouwmeester and Filip Kuba very often, and this twosome can lend some offense, too. Jaroslav Spacek and Dmitri Kulikov won't play a lot as the third pairing, but they'll contribute offensively, with Kulikov getting power-play time.

As mentioned, the net isn't exactly a shining example of all-time impenetrability, but Markstrom has hit his stride as a starter while Weekes was a sought-after backup during his career.

Here’s a look at Florida's all-time all-drafted team. The 20-player lineup is based on players’ entire NHL body of work.

Aleksander Barkov (2nd, 2013)
Stephen Weiss (4th, 2001)
Rob Niedermayer (5th, 1993)
Vincent Trocheck (64th, 2011)

Evgenii Dadonov (71st, 2007)
Nathan Horton (3rd, 2003)
Michael Frolik (10th, 2006)
Radek Dvorak (10th, 1995)

Jonathan Huberdeau (3rd, 2011)
Kristian Huselius (47th, 1997)
David Booth (53rd, 2004)
Niklas Hagman (70th, 1999)

Aaron Ekblad (1st, 2014)
Ed Jovanovski (1st, 1994)
Jay Bouwmeester (3rd, 2002)
Filip Kuba (192nd, 1995)
Jaroslav Spacek (117th, 1998)
Dmitri Kulikov (14th, 2009)

Jacob Markstrom (31st, 2008)
Kevin Weekes (41st, 1993)


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