Taken in the third round (87th overall) in the virtual 2020 NHL Entry Draft, speedy and savvy Justin Sourdif is the second player from the WHL’s Vancouver Giants to ever be selected by the Florida Panthers. For all you Panthers historians out there, Michael Repik was the first back in 2007.
Prior to being Bill Zito’s fourth selection as the Panthers general manager, Sourdif appeared in 125 regular season games over his first two seasons with the Giants, amassing 49 goals and 100 points to go along with 75 PIMs and a +56 rating. Additionally, Sourdif suited up in 24 playoff games with Vancouver and produced two goals and six assists, with of all those points coming during the 2019 postseason.
As WHL rookie in 2018-19, Sourdif led all freshmen Giants with 23 goals, making him just the third Vancouver skater to surpass the 20-goal mark during their 16-year-old season.
In his draft season, Sourdif’s 26 goals were second best on the Vancouver roster and he finished third on the club in scoring with 54 points. In January of 2020, he appeared in the 2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects game in Hamilton, Ontario and recorded an assist in Team Red’s 5-3 victory over Team White.
In 2020-21, Sourdif was named player of the year in the BC, Division as the WHL played a truncated, division-based schedule due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 19-year-old led all BC Division skaters with 23 assists and 34 points, scoring in 17 of Vancouver’s 22 games. He produced nine points on the power play, five while shorthanded and finished with a +10 rating. His 34 points were tied for third-highest in the league behind the Winnipeg Ice’s Peyton Krebs (43) and Ben McCartney (37) of the Brandon Wheat Kings.
On September 24, 2021, Sourdif signed an entry-level contract with the Panthers.
With an NHL contract in his back pocket, this season, Sourdif set new WHL highs with 45 assists and 71 points while playing 24 games with the Giants and 28 games with his new team, the Edmonton Oil Kings, after he was traded in mid- January in exchange for forward Jacob Boucher, a first-round pick in the 2022 WHL Prospects Draft and a first-round pick in the 2025 WHL Prospects Draft.
Sourdif matched the 26 goals he scored in 2019-20 in five less games. The move to a better squad saw him slightly increase his overall offensive production and markedly increase the amount of goals scored. He netted 9 goals with Vancouver and 17 with the Oil Kings.
The 20-year-old would put up five goals and 14 points as Edmonton would go an impressive 16-3 in the WHL playoffs on their way to capturing the third league championship in franchise history.
At the 2022 Memorial Cup, Sourdif collected two assists in the Oil Kings only win, a 4-3 overtime decision over the host Saint John Sea Dogs. He was held off the score sheet in tough losses to Shawinigan and Hamilton.
Sourdif was part of the Canadian team that took part in the canceled First Run of the 2022 World Junior Championship back in December, he played in the opener against Czechia and did not suit up against Austria.
With the tournament rescheduled for August, it will be interesting to see if the Panthers allow Sourdif to appear, provided he is invited again by Hockey Canada, in the high-level event or play it safe and not risk him being injured so close to the start of training camp. The right choice, in my opinion, is for Sourdif to take part if asked.
According to Elite Prospects 2020 Draft Guide Sourdif has a powerful, hands-in-front release with occasional crafty placement — he’s a legitimate long-range threat when he shoots. His off of the puck skating patterns, timing, and a nose for soft ice put him in the best possible shooting position. He’s a tremendously athletic player and skates with a low center of gravity, allowing him to bulldoze through traffic.
With the Panthers pressed up hard against the salary cap, a standout performance at training camp could earn Sourdif a spot on the big club, but chances are he’ll start his pro career in Charlotte with the Checkers. He’ll be one of the prospects to keep a close eye on come September.