Reporting Tim Kephart
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SUNRISE, Fla. (CBSMiami.com) – The first place Florida Panthers have been one of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League this season.
But unlike many teams who suddenly get hot by adding a plethora of free agents; the Panthers have two potential stars in the farm system waiting to be brought up to join the club.
Goalie Jacob Markstrom is expected to be the heir apparent in between the pipes possibly as early as next season.
Markstrom played in six games this season and finished with a 2-3 record while stopping 93 percent of the shots on goal.
Markstrom has bounced back and forth between the panthers and its farm team, the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL. He’s still rough around the edges, but a 6’6” 200 pound goalie doesn’t come along often.
Plus, Markstrom, a native of Gavle, Sweden, will turn 22-years-old in January. If Markstrom can put it all together, the Panthers are set at the most important position.
But, there’s more.
The Panthers also have last season’s number three overall pick, center Jonathan Huberdeau. The Quebec-native almost made the team this season, but was sent back to his junior league team as he tries to add more bulk to his 6’1”, 171 pound frame.
Huberdeau has since been tearing it up for his junior team. He’s played in 13 games this season and scored 10 goals and has 18 assists this season, which translates to 28 points on the season.
The center is probably at least a year away, but between Huberdeau and Markstrom; the Panthers are prepared to carry the franchise to new heights.