27 июня 2009 года.
Florida picks Russian teen // South Florida
Defenseman soon could see chance to play for Panthers
By Steve Gorten
Montreal - After much discussion and consideration, the Panthers ended
up not making a move with defenseman Jay Bouwmeester at the NHL draft Friday
night. Or with their first-round pick.
Deciding against moving up or down, the Panthers chose 18-year-old Russian
defenseman Dmitry Kulikov with the 14th overall pick.
The 6-foot-1, 183-pound Kulikov was named the rookie of the year and
best professional prospect of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last
season after posting 12 goals and 50 assists in 57 games for league champion
Drummondville. He is known an offensive-minded blue-liner who projects
as a power-play quarterback.
Kulikov said his goal is to play for the Panthers, who are about to
lost their top defenseman in Bouwmeester, next season. Scott Luce, the
Panthers' director of amateur scouting, said that's possible. If not, he'll
spend a second season in Quebec.
"I think [coach Pete] DeBoer is going to be pleasantly surprised with
what we have in the package for him in training camp," Luce said of Kulikov
after his selection. "He's not necessarily going to make the team, but
he's going to challenge for a spot."
He'll have to battle several promising prospects, including the Panthers'
top pick (10th overall) in the 2007 draft, Keaton Ellerby, as well as Jason
Garrison, who played well in AHL Rochester last season. But Kulikov said
he doesn't mind the competition.
"To make an NHL team you have to be better than someone else," he said.
Because there's no transfer agreement between the NHL and Russia, teams
have sometimes been hesitant to draft Russians.
However, Luce said the Panthers did "extensive due diligence" in that
regard, talking both with Kulikov's coaches in Drummondville and their
scouts in Russia.
Kulikov, whose family expects to move to North America sometime soon,
described his selection by the Panthers as "an unbelievable feeling."
"They've been pretty interested in the past two months," he said. "I
hoped before the draft the Panthers would draft me. ... I just didn't know
if I'd stay until the 14th pick or they'd move up."
The Panthers chose to stay pat. Assistant general manager Randy Sexton
said about an hour before the draft one team picking ahead of the Panthers
was still interested in trading down while as many as four teams below
them wanted to move up.
Friday started with four teams hot after Bouwmeester, though one of
those teams, Philadelphia, dropped out of contention after trading for
Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger.
"A lot of guys I've talked to are not interested in moving their first-round
pick," Sexton said before the draft.
Sexton said he hadn't spoken to Bouwmeester's agent, Bryon Baltimore
in about a week. At that time, Sexton said, Baltimore gave him a list of
teams Bouwmeester, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent Wednesday,
was interested in signing with long term.
"They gave us a very clear picture what his criteria were. A couple
of teams on that list met the criteria before, but wouldn't meet it now,"
Sexton said. "From our perspective, if we end up doing something it would
make sense to move him to a team we think he would like to go to."