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Owen Tippett, 18-year-old rookie, shows knack for shooting in Panthers debut

It was an encouraging first NHL game for Florida’s 2017 first-round pick.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Florida Panthers Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

One of the best ways for a young NHL prospect to signal his goal scoring potential is to put a lot of shots on net. That’s what Owen Tippett did in the OHL to become a top-10 NHL draft pick, and it’s what he continued to do in his professional debut with the Florida Panthers.

Tippett, who doesn’t turn 19 until February, recorded a team-high seven shots on goal in the Panthers’ 5-1 loss to the Flyers on Tuesday. He failed to tally a point in his 11 minutes and 39 seconds of playing time, but showed precisely why he could become one of Florida’s best players in the near future.

Here’s a look at some of Tippett’s most impressive plays against Philadelphia. First, here’s a solid offensive zone entry into a toe drag for a shot on goal. It doesn’t lead to anything, but you can see the raw tools he’s working with here.

Here’s Tippett beating a Flyers defenseman with some nice puck-handling, even if it didn’t lead to a shot.

And he can even make defensive plays, too! In one quick sequence, he stole the puck from Flyers rookie Nolan Patrick, who was drafted eight slots ahead of him, and immediately forced the goalie to make a save.

These are not the plays of an 18-year-old overwhelmed by the moment.

Racking up shots on goal is nothing new for Tippett, who was selected by the Panthers with the No. 10 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. He had a huge draft year with the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads by recording 44 goals, 75 points, and 284 shots on goal in 60 games. That’s an average of 4.7 shots on goal per game.

Six players from the 2017 draft class — Tippett, Nico Hischier, Nolan Patrick, Kailer Yamamoto, Filip Chytil, and Alex Formenton — have made NHL debuts already. Chytil and Formenton have already been sent down, however.

Tippett’s junior numbers are indicative of a potential star scorer at the highest level, and we saw Tuesday how he was able to put them up. Tippett will hit some bumps like any teenage NHL player, but his debut was a strong sign that he could be in Florida for good.