Jayce Hawrlyuk models his game after his favorite player, Brad Marchand.
Don’t you hate Brad Marchand? Me too.
That’s because he’s an agitator that can score.
Wouldn’t that be nice to have that in a Florida Panthers uniform?
If given the chance that’s what Hawrlyuk wants to bring to the table. He says that isn’t part of his game, but he racked up 260 penalty minutes playing with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings. His willingness to drop the gloves also cost him when he broke his hand during a rookie camp game fight with Washington’s Jakub Vrana.
Panther management was eager to see how Hawrlyuk’s game would translate in the AHL last year, but they would have to wait 18 games while his hand healed after surgery. Then in his debut he was blindsided by Connor Jones of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and was forced to miss another 11 games.
Obviously he and the Panthers were frustrated, but he was finally able to get on track and finished with a respectable nine goals and 17 assists in 47 games in his first year as a pro. To put this in perspective, he compiled 106 points (47 goals) the previous season for the Wheat Kings in 58 games.
He can play. He expects more from himself. So do the Panthers.
At Panthers Development Camp in June, I had the chance to speak with Jayce for a few minutes and he discusses his hand and confidence level in making the Panthers this year.
As a 21-year-old player you can tell he is mature both mentally and physically. He’s a solid 5’10”, 192 lbs. and will likely add more weight in the coming years. There are several players vying for a few spots, especially at LW.
Could Hawrlyuk make a case to make the team next season? It’s certainly possible. A third or fourth line spot could be his if he shows the promise that comes with being picked 32nd overall in the 2014 NHL Draft.
If there is one thing the Panthers lacked last year it was toughness. Director of North American Scouting Jason Bakula admitted this year’s draft was largely to make up for getting a little soft last season, especially defensively.
If Hawrlyuk can eventually become Florida’s version of something close to Marchand, it will be a welcomed, scrappy, addition to a team trying to regain it’s identity from two years ago.