Top Florida Panthers prospect Mackie Samoskevich will play in the rescheduled IIHF World Junior Championship this week as a member of Team USA.
It should be the start of a big year for the Panthers’ top pick in 2021.
Samoskevich, 19, will not join the Panthers at rookie or training camp since he is about to embark on his sophomore season at the University of Michigan.
He was at Florida’s recent development camp where his speed and big shot were on full display.
“It has been a blast, I have really enjoyed my first couple of days here,” Samoskevich said after the second day of workouts in Coral Springs
“I have only been here a couple of days and I feel I have already gotten better. The pace has been really high and it is helping me a ton.”
Up next is the World Juniors, a tournament Samoskevich initially started in December.
The original World Junior tournament was cancelled due to a Covid outbreak and later rescheduled for August. It will be held in Edmonton. He scored a goal in one of the games that was played before it was called off.
Team USA starts its tournament on Tuesday against Germany at 10 p.m. on NHL Network.
The full tournament schedule can be FOUND HERE
Samoskevich is one of the holdovers from the original team since he will be returning to college and thereby will not be starting his professional career this year — as is the case with Justin Sourdif who will not return to Team Canada for the summer tournament.
Following the tournament, Samoskevich will return to Ann Arbor where the Wolverines will look quite different this season.
Last year, Michigan was one of the most highly-touted teams in college hockey history as it featured numerous first-round draft picks — including 2021 No. 1 pick Owen Power — and spent much of the year ranked No. 1.
Michigan lost in the semifinal of the NCAA Frozen Four to the University of Denver and fellow Florida prospects Michael Benning and Jack Devine.
In 40 games with Michigan, Samoskevich was fifth on the team among forwards in scoring with 10 goals and 29 points.
A number of his teammates from last season will be fighting for spots on NHL teams when camp opens. Last week, coach Mel Pearson was fired after a long list of allegations was unearthed.
Brandon Naurato was promoted from the coaching staff to replace Pearson.
“I thought it was a great season, we had such a great team,” Samoskevich said. “All the guys there were great and it was good to learn from them. It was unique to be around that many talented players and such great people as well. I grew a lot throughout the year.
“I am looking forward to next year, I think we’ll be even better. We had a lot swagger, didn’t put pressure on ourselves and didn’t let it affect us. We just went out and did our thing.”