December 7, 2022

Coral Springs, Florida – Maki Samoskevic A perfect fit as a freshman on the star-studded University of Michigan team last season, but the prospect of the Florida Panthers attacking team is eyeing a bigger role en route to the NHL.

Samoskevich was the eighth leading scorer with 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) in 40 games for Michigan, which advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four before losing 3-2 in overtime to eventual champion, University of Denver.

24th selection by Florida in the 2021 NHL Draft, Samoskevich was one of five Michigan players selected in the first round of that year, the other four being defense. Owen Power (No. 1, Buffalo Sabers), forward Matty Benners (No. 2, Seattle Kraken), defender Luke Hughes (No. 4, New Jersey Devils) and striker Kent Johnson (No. 5, Columbus Blue Jackets).

Samoskevich and Hughes are the only two of the five who have yet to sign an NHL entry contract, which puts them in a position to become Michigan’s captains and key players this season.

“I am very excited,” Samoskevich said. “I must do [take on a bigger role] A little bit with the guys that left for the Beijing (2022) Olympics last year (Bauer and Johnson played for Canada; Bennieres and forward Brendan Bryson played for the US), so definitely get a taste of a bit of that for sure. And then I think it would be a really good team as well. I think it would be really fun for sure.”

How long Samoskevich will be in Michigan before he turns pro, we couldn’t see, but the Panthers love his track.

“He’s going to be an outstanding player, in my opinion,” said Gregory Campbell, Panthers vice president of division and player development. “And I’m not alone in that thought. He’s been a little bit protective this year because they have a strong team in Michigan, so I think this year, he’s going to excel even more.

“We’re glad he’s been through this and now he’ll have a chance to be captain for his next team this season. I think he’s a guy who isn’t too far off from playing in the NHL.”

Although Campbell stressed it was important for the Panthers not to rush into Samoskevich, he praised the skate and said his shot is already at the NHL level.

Samoskevich (5 feet 11, 191 pounds) said he feels the skateboarding is the best part of his game.

“I think when I move my feet and play fast, [I’m] “It’s hard to play against him,” he said. “I think he’s definitely ready (for the National Hockey League) and one thing I can improve [at] Maybe he’s playing under contact. The NHL has a lot of great players, so being able to play through that and get used to that, I think would be a huge thing to adapt to and improve on for sure.”

Samoskevich, who turns 20 on November 15, arrived in Michigan after playing three seasons with the Chicago of the American Hockey League.

He said he wasn’t able to watch the Panthers live last season when they played the Red Wings in Detroit, although he did see some of their games on TV. The Panthers had the best regular season in their history (58-18-6, 122 points), and won the Presidents Cup for having the best record in the National Hockey League.

“It’s a fun team to watch,” Samoskevic said. “So it makes you want to be with them even more. I hope that one day it will.”

Regarding the date of that day, Samoskevich was not ready to predict this.

“Yes, I hope,” he said, “when I’m ready.” “When I get to the league, I want to be an impact [player] Immediately. So when I’m ready to do that, I think that’s what I’ll do. If this is next year, whatever it is, that’s it, I’ll do it.”

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