On Thursday afternoon, the Florida Panthers announced that they have signed defenseman Mackenzie Weegar to an entry-level contract. Weegar, 20, was selected in the 7th round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in New Jersey.
From an OHL afterthought, to a Memorial Cup Champion, to signing his first NHL deal; Weegar’s dream of becoming an NHL defenseman is closer than ever.
After an impressive 2013-14 season with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL, tallying 59 points in 61 regular season games, along with 22 points in 16 playoff games, Weegar began turning heads among the CHL faithful.
But Weegar was turning heads in Florida long before then. Paul Gallagher, the Panthers’ Eastern Canadian scout, told Metro News after last year’s draft, “He’s got something that intrigues you as a scout. It’s also about his willingness to get better, to work at his game.” This could explain why the Panthers traded their 2014 7th round pick to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a 2013 7th round pick, which they used to select Weegar 206th overall.
Luckily for Panthers’ fans, they’ve already gotten a little taste of what Weegar could bring to the Cats blue-line after witnessing an incredible showing at the 2013 developmental rookie camp. Weegar became one of two defensemen from rookie camp (Joshua Brown was the other) to earn a shot at last year’s NHL pre-season action, earning an assist in a 3-2 victory against the Nashville Predators.
This is yet another big step in the right direction for the Panthers organization. Within the next few years, Florida could be looking at a blue-line made up of Weegar, Mike Matheson, Ian McCoshen, Joshua Brown, Dmitry Kulikov, Erik Gudbranson, Alex Petrovic, Dylan Olsen and/or possibly Aaron Ekblad, pending on this seasons draft.
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