The 2011-2012 National hockey League season was a
banner year for the Florida Panthers. The Panthers brought playoff hockey back
to South Florida for the first time in 12 years. The passion for the game of
hockey has returned and the Panther fans have Dale Tallon to thank for that.
Tallon, the general manager of the Florida Panthers,
restructured the team during the 2011 free agency period. However, Tallon also
is adding to the pool of quality prospects through the draft.
At the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Tallon built upon the
already deep pool of centers when he selected Victoria Royals center Steven
Hodges in the third round.
Hodges is now playing in his third Western Hockey
League season. So far, he has collected two goals and one assist but is
currently on the injured reserve with an upper body injury.
Since making the move to Victoria, British Columbia,
Hodge's offensive game has marginally improved. Back in the 2010-11 season,
Hodges, who was part of the Chilliwack Bruins, scored just five goals and added
Fast forward to the next season, his totals exploded
to 21 goals and 25 assists. This shows the potential Hodges has to be a scoring
option for Kevin Dineen's Panthers
The Delta, British Columbia native is regarded as a
long-term project for Florida. He could play another season in the WHL and
really, that is the best option for him right now.
As he matures, the Royals will rely on Hodges to be
a leader both on and off the ice. Moreover, his numbers will improve over the
He is featured on both the power play and penalty
kill, which makes him attractive as a player.
Among his other features is his ability as a two-way
center. Hodges is not afraid to show his gritty side and will drop the gloves
from time to time. In addition, his skating ability and his size could make him
a third line center in the NHL.
Despite all of those qualities, the road to Sunrise,
Florida will be a long one. Hodges will need one or possibly two years in the
minor leagues to perfect his game.
On the next edition of the Prospect Preview, Los
Angeles Kings prospect Alex Roach step into the spotlight.