The Florida Panthers said their off-season change in logo and jersey design was to coincide with a new era of hockey, one that would be much more successful, and the Panthers have put in place a solid piece that can help them deliver on that promise.
Florida has signed defenseman Ian McCoshen to a three-year, entry-level deal that could see the 20-year-old make the jump into the NHL lineup as soon as the 2016-17 campaign. Though his name may not leap off the page, McCoshen is a highly touted prospect for the Cats who was ranked the 72nd-best prospect not yet a full-time NHLer in THN’s Future Watch 2016 edition. He’s the highest-ranked prospect the Panthers didn’t yet have under contract, but his signing fixes that.
Drafted by the Panthers 31st overall in 2013, McCoshen has spent each of the past three seasons at Boston College, where he has continually played a bigger role and produced more on the offensive side of the puck. This past season, he notched six goals and 21 points — the best offensive season of his career — in 40 games, which was an improvement on the six goals and 16 points the year prior and a big jump from the mere 13 points he registered as a freshman.
At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, McCoshen has good size to be a mainstay in the NHL, and his size doesn’t mean he’s sacrificed skating ability. He’s still considered a skilled skater, and his physical presence is something the Panthers have to be giddy about.
There’s another benefit to having McCoshen in the lineup, too: he could be a natural fit alongside former Boston College teammate Mike Matheson, who was the 63rd-ranked prospect and also under contract with the Panthers.
Matheson, who competed and excelled at the 2016 World Championship with Team Canada, is expected to make the jump to the Panthers this coming season after spending the past campaign with the AHL’s Portland Pirates. Matheson was named the World Championship’s best defenseman and selected to the all-star team with two goals and six points in 10 games. This after he saw five games of post-season action with the Panthers where he averaged nearly 22 minutes of ice time per game.
If Matheson and McCoshen click together and are a fit, the Panthers could have a long-time pairing in the making. Similar age, similar size and from the same school, it seems like it might be a good fit.