Florida Panthers take Jayce Hawryluk, stay quiet on trade front

06/28/2014 7:54 PM

06/28/2014 7:54 PM

Jayce Hawryluk came into the second day of the NHL Draft figuring he wouldn’t have to wait long to hear his name called.

Florida general manager Dale Tallon, after all, told the winger from Manitoba that he would be the Panthers’ selection with the 32nd overall pick if he was still on the board.

Finnish winger Juho Lammikko, on the other hand, had no idea he would land in Florida after not meeting with the Panthers in the days leading up to the draft.

Yet here both were, wearing matching red Florida jerseys with their draft year stitched on the back.

“They are a good, young team with good players,” Hawryluk said after Florida took him with the second pick of the second round at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday morning.

“It’s a good organization, and I’m happy to be there. They told me I was their guy at 32, and they kept their promise. That means a lot to me. Of course, anything could change. But they kept their word.”

Said Tallon: “He has speed, toughness and skill. There are a lot of things to like.”

Florida didn’t have a third-round pick before Tallon made his lone trade of the weekend in a deal with the Islanders. The Panthers gave up a third-round pick in next year’s draft — which Florida is hosting at BB&T Center in Sunrise — for the 65th overall selection on Saturday.

With that pick, Florida went after a versatile winger in Lammikko. Tallon said he liked what he saw from Lammikko at the World Under-18 tournament in the spring.

Lammikko played 20 games in the Finnish Elite League last year, but Tallon said he might play in North America next season.

“It was an awesome feeling when I heard my name called,” said Lammikko, who is expected to join the rest of Florida’s 2014 draft class at a development camp starting July 7.

The Panthers came into the second and final day of the draft with four selections, but they ended up with five after making the deal with the Islanders.

With its next two picks, Florida stayed on its forward route, taking wingers Joe Wegwerth and Miguel Fidler in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively. Neither is expected to be on the Panthers’ roster any time soon.

Wegwerth, who is part of the U.S. developmental team, plans to play in the USHL Junior League for the Green Bay Gamblers next year. After that, he is committed to play at Notre Dame.

Fidler is a high school player from Edina, Minnesota, and also plans to play in the USHL next season. Then, it’s off to Ohio State.

“I like to play a physical game, hit people. I want to bring that to the Panthers someday,” Wegwerth said.

With its final pick of the day, Florida went away from forwards and took Swedish goalie Hugo Fagerblom in the seventh round.

“We added size and players who are hard to play against,” Tallon said.

QUIET WEEKEND

The Panthers were quiet at this draft after much speculation that Tallon would be as busy as any general manager in the building.

Florida’s lone trade of the weekend was the minor third-round swap with the Islanders.

Tallon shopped the first overall pick but kept it and took top-rated defenseman Aaron Ekblad on Friday night.

“The timing wasn’t right for trades,” Tallon said. “With being able to talk to free agents and the draft, you didn’t have time to get to the meat of the matter. It made it a little difficult to get conversations about a deal.”

For Tallon, his focus turns from the amateur players toward pending free agents. Tallon said he is looking for a couple defensemen and forwards.

This year, teams were allowed to talk to free agents before the signing period begins at noon Tuesday.

• Tallon said Florida has made qualifying offers to most of its restricted free agents, including defensemen Dmitry Kulikov and Erik Gudbranson.

Florida didn’t make offers to Steven Anthony, Matthias Lindstrom, Anthony Luciani and Jonathan Hazen.

• John Madden will return to the Panthers as an assistant coach next season under new head coach Gerard Gallant.

Madden, who won three Stanley Cups as a center with New Jersey and Chicago, was in his first year as a pro scout when he was asked to join Peter Horachek’s staff when Kevin Dineen was fired in November.

Tallon said Brian Skrudland, who was also on Horachek’s staff, could also return.

Skrudland has a year left on his contract and could go back to being Florida’s director of player development.

“We have a few names,” Tallon said. “We’ll get it all done.”

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