Florida Panthers Top "NHL Organizational Rankings" List From ESPN

ESPN has found a way to put the Florida Panthers at the top of an NHL list -- sort it by the number of prospects that could turn around a franchise in the coming years.

The Panthers -- who had the fewest points in the Eastern Conference last season -- took the number-one spot in the ranking, and the Edmonton Oilers -- with the fewest points in the Western Conference last season -- were placed at number two on the list.

Although it seems that being a crappy team with a lot of high draft picks wins a team a spot atop the rankings for this list, ESPN's Grant Sonier says it's a bit more than that.

"When looking at this list, it's important to remember that various circumstances can affect each team's talent level and that the better you finish each year, the later you pick in the draft," he says. "In many cases, teams have traded away top prospects in order to be one of the top teams today."

OK, so it's almost all about having high draft picks.

The Panthers had the third pick in the last two NHL drafts, where they selected Jonathan Huberdeau in 2011 and Eric Gudbranson in 2010, although Edmonton -- which selected first in both of those drafts -- still places behind the Panthers on the list.

That's due to two other highly ranked Panthers youngsters, Quinton Howden and Nick Bjugstad, being top-25 prospects in ESPN's ratings.

In total, ESPN says the Panthers have the most quality prospects in the league -- 15.

The team's front office was excited enough about the list that it put out a news release about it, although the team has been remodeled for the next season with players that are a bit more proven.

Goaltender Tomas Vokoun is gone, but defensemen Brian Campbell and Ed Jovanovski are in. There are also eight new forwards coming to training camp, including Tomas Fleischmann.

The Panthers' next season might not sound that different from Cats squads of old, but it's got to work sometime... right?

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley