Panthers Former Top Prospect Signs Overseas

Former 2nd-round draft pick, and a one-time top prospect in the Florida Panthers' system, restricted free agent Aleksi Heponiemi has signed a one-year deal to head overseas to Switzerland.

The 24-year-old will play for EHC Biel for the coming season.

The Panthers did give Heponiemi a qualifying offer, meaning they will continue to retain his NHL rights until the summer of 2027.

After being selected by the Panthers in the 2017 Draft, Heponiemi absolutely destroyed the Western Hockey League, putting up 118 points in just 57 regular-season games while leading the Swift Current Broncos to the WHL title and earning First-Team WHL All-Star honors. He vaulted to near the top of the Panthers' prospects list.

He's taken a bit of a step back since turning pro, however, this past season registering 43 points in 62 AHL games with the Charlotte Checkers. He's played a total of 25 games in the NHL with the Panthers over the last three seasons, posting two goals and four assists. 

An EHL scout summed up Heponiemi's arrival in Switzerland with the following: 

"Aleksi Heponiemi is a wonderful, elegant playmaker with a highly developed hockey scythe and good vision of the game. His general skill level is well above average and his speed and mobility are remarkable. He is not yet at his zenith. He hasn't been strong enough in terms of skill and physical strength to shake up the NHL. In theory at least he's a great fit for our league, so I'm really looking forward to Aleksi Heponiemi."

Photo: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports