The Florida Panthers—taking a page out of the Edmonton Oilers book—have sent 18-year old Owen Tippett back to his junior club. Tippett had played seven games with the Panthers, scoring one goal, but will now return to the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL. He will not burn a year of his entry-level contract as he played fewer than ten games. With the announcement, GM Dale Tallon released a statement:
Owen was impressive in his time with our club and has a bright future with the Panthers. This was a tough decision, but we think it’s best for his long-term development.
It’s hard to argue that this isn’t the best move for Tippett’s development, especially given what will likely transpire over the next few months. While Mississauga has gotten off to a slow start, they do have plenty of talent still and could turn things around enough to at least make the OHL playoffs. What will be very interesting though is Tippett’s international play. He’ll almost certainly be taken by Team Canada to the World Junior tournament in Buffalo after attending the Summer Showcase this year, but there could be an even more intriguing option.
Canada’s Olympic management team has already had discussions with the CHL on taking junior players to Pyeongchang, with Elliotte Friedman reporting on the negotiations. Friedman mentioned Jordan Kyrou as a possibility, but Tippett’s name would likely be added to that list. Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press reported earlier this summer that junior players would be eligible even if they’d already signed their entry-level contracts, and further to that even if they’d already played in the NHL. In specific, Whyno told PHR “if someone’s on a slide, in theory he’s eligible.” That would include Tippett (and Edmonton’s Kailer Yamamoto for the United States), making him an interesting player to watch over the next few months.