CORAL SPRINGS — While many draft boards had Jack Devine as going as high as the second round, the Florida Panthers ended up selecting him in the seventh round.
“I was just happy to go to Florida,” Devine said.
“I think it’s the best place for me right now and I’m super-grateful that they were the team that chose me. What happened at the draft happened, those rankings don’t matter anymore, now it’s my job in the next five years to play pro hockey and be one of the top players on that list.”
What carried him through the waning hours of the draft was the positive attitude that he always carried with him.
An attitude that University of Denver teammate and Panthers’ 2020 fourth-round pick Mike Benning noticed while alongside him.
“Jack is a great guy,” Benning said. “He is always positive out there, he doesn’t have to be a good teammate because he is already a great person.”
Needless to say, the Panthers were pretty thrilled when he was there with just four picks remaining in the draft and they pounced at the opportunity to take him.
“He is a high-character person,” Florida VP of player personnel and development Gregory Campbell said.
“He is a guy that our scouts thought really highly of and it’s not too often that a draft-eligible guy plays in the NCAA, so that speaks to his maturity.”
Devine played in a depth role for the Pioneers in his freshman season, but filled it pretty well, notching 19 points — 16 of them being assists — in 36 games.
“He is a really good playmaker,” Benning said. “He can find you when no one else can.”
Two of those assists came during the NCAA’s Frozen Four en route to a national championship.
“It was awesome,” Devine said.
“It was an experience that I can take with me into this organization for the rest of my hockey career. When you win a championship for a city, it’s a pretty big deal and I will take it with me for the rest of my life.”
What excited the 5-foot-11, 176-pound forward about landing in Florida was the chance to do so again at the NHL level.
The Panthers are coming off of their best season in franchise history and with most of the core in their mid-to-late 20s, Devine could come in when he is NHL-ready and help a winning team as a depth piece the same way he did in Denver.
“There is a winning culture here,” Devine said. “You can already tell the coaches are super dialed into each detail in each practice, so it’s awesome when you can really tell when coaches are motivated to win and being part of a winning culture is something I want to be a part of.”
With a close friend in Benning in the organization, the excitement only grew for Devine.
It also made adjusting to his first NHL development camp a whole lot easier.
“It’s always nice when you have someone you’re comfortable with. ” Devine said. “He is helping me adjust and if I have any questions he is always happy to answer.
For now, Devine is headed back to Denver for his Sophomore season along with Benning to try to win back-to-back national titles.
But he is hoping he could help the Panthers lift the Stanley Cup in a few short years too.
“I can’t wait to see [Benning] on the ice again. Hopefully, we can win a championship and then try to bring that to the Florida Panthers.”
The Panthers know that he is capable of winning and hope to see it at the NHL level as well.
“He is going back to a national championship team and he will be relied on as a leader,” Campbell said.
“Every team wants winners and we want winners and we are no different. Hopefully, he can bring that to this organization.”