An OHL scoring champion, Red Tilson Trophy winner, and World Junior gold medalist – No, this isn’t an article about Hart Trophy finalist John Tavares, but rather the Florida Panthers’ highly touted prospect, Vincent Trocheck.
Selected by the Panthers in the 3rd round (64th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Trocheck became a household name to many hockey fans this year after seemingly coming out of nowhere to dominate the Ontario Hockey League. Trocheck finished the 2012-2013 OHL season with a staggering 109 points (50G-59A-109P) in 63 games split between the Saginaw Spirit and Plymouth Whalers. Amazingly, Trocheck became the 2nd consecutive player within the Panthers’ organization to win the Red Tilson Trophy as MVP of the OHL. Last season, goalie prospect Michael Houser (free agent signed by Florida on July 10, 2012) was awarded the trophy for his outstanding play for London Knights.
While it’s clear that Trocheck has begun to take his offensive game to the next level, Panthers’ Director of Player Development Brian Skrudland noticed that his leadership abilities were also fit for the NHL.
“You give him something to do, and boy oh boy, he’s going to do it,” said Skrudland who could hardly contain his excitement when asked about Trocheck. “It’s guys like Vinny that are going to help the (Nick) Bjugstads, that are going to push the (Aleksander) Barkovs, believe it or not … That’s my gut feeling that he’s that type of leader.”
Prior to finishing his stellar OHL season, Trocheck, along with fellow Panther prospect Rocco Grimaldi, were able to compete for Team USA at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships in Russia. In seven games for Team USA, Trocheck compiled 6 points (3G-3A-6P), including the empty-net goal that sealed the American’s victory over Team Sweden in the championship game. Although his offensive statistics weren’t breathtaking, he was able to do all the little things on the ice that helped USA win the gold, including impressive defense and smart play.
“Just to be able to go over there at all is an honor, but (to win) is easily, easily my proudest moment as a player,” Trocheck said of his WJC experience. “To have the USA crest on my chest is a huge honor.”
After finishing a hectic and fortuitous 2012-2013 season, Trocheck headed to the Panthers’ development camp draped in both accolades and expectations. However, even though both his fame and resumé have grown, Trocheck will be the first to tell you that his newfound notoriety hasn’t gone to his head.
“I do my best to stay away from anything with my name in it,” Trocheck said of his rise to stardom. “I try to stay humble and not let it get to my head. I’ve seen a lot of guys in the past who let success get to their head and then take a downfall”
However, as humble as he may be, Trocheck did also note that the confidence gained from his recent success has been a nice addition to his game.
“You have to be as confident in yourself as you can be and the success has definitely helped me with that,” said Trocheck.
With a clear head and a lot to prove, Trocheck’s abilities impressed both coaches and fans alike at last month’s development camp in Coral Springs. Standing at just 5’11, Trocheck knows that he has to put in extra effort and time to help grow his game past the limitations of his size.
“It’s just an effort thing,” Trocheck said his hopes for improving his game. “I am always working to get stronger and always working to get faster. Especially in the offseason that’s where I try to make myself better.”
If the display Trocheck put on at development camp is any indication of future success, then the former OHL standout should transition smoothly to the AHL. However, even though he is oozing with potential, Trocheck could find it hard to standout at the Panthers’ upcoming training camp in September. At the start of this year’s camp, Trocheck will be on the outside looking in at the Panthers’ core of established centers. Currently sitting behind players like Aleksander Barkov, Drew Shore, Marcel Goc, Shawn Matthias, and Nick Bjugstad, Trocheck will most certainly start the year in the AHL as he works on transitioning his game from junior to professional hockey.
Although Trocheck’s road to the NHL isn’t paved with gold, there is no question that he has the right attitude and determination that the Panthers’ hope to build their future around. Even if it takes a few seasons for him to reach the NHL, Trocheck has no doubt that he will one day don Panther red.
“I’m coming here to make the team,” Trocheck said confidently when asked about his intentions after turning pro. “I am going to do whatever it takes to wear that jersey”
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