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Top 40 Countdown: No. 9

The player who ranks No. 9 on the Wolves’ Top 40 Goal-Scorers Countdown, presented by Jewel-Osco, is the epitome of persistence. After nine seasons spent primarily in the AHL, he finally earned his breakthrough to become a full-time NHL player.

At 20 years of age, 5-foot-11, 177-pound forward Derek MacKenzie jumped from the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves — the result of being the Atlanta Thrashers’ fifth-round pick in the 1999 NHL Draft.

MacKenzie earned a spot in the lineup with the 2001-02 Wolves squad that was navigating its first year through the AHL. He contributed 13 goals and 12 assists during the regular season, then played all 25 games during the postseason and provided 4 goals and 2 assists as the Wolves climbed all the way from the Western Conference’s seventh seed to capturing the Calder Cup.

The Sudbury, Ontario, native stayed with the Wolves for five more seasons and became one of the fans’ biggest favorites for his skill, tenacity and leadership. When Chicago made the 2004 Calder Cup Playoffs, MacKenzie scored 7 goals in 10 games. When the Wolves rolled all the way to the 2005 Calder Cup Finals, MacKenzie delivered 5 goals and 6 assists in 18 games.

During his six seasons with the Wolves, MacKenzie stamped his name all over the Wolves’ all-time leaders lists. In addition to sharing eighth place with 83 goals, he owns the franchise record for short-handed goals (21), stands fourth in regular-season games played (377), 10th in points (184), 11th in penalty minutes (441) and he’s one of 15 players to eclipse the 100-assist mark (101). He also ranks sixth in postseason appearances (62) and tied with Brett Sterling for eighth in postseason goals (16).

After capping his six years with the Wolves, MacKenzie spent most of the next three seasons with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch before finally earning a full-time spot on an NHL roster with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2010-11. MacKenzie wound up earning 611 regular-season NHL games and was named the Florida Panthers’ captain in October 2016.

Not long after concluding his playing career, MacKenzie was hired by Joel Quenneville in 2019 to serve as a Panthers assistant coach. He’s wrapping up his second season in that role.

Want to enjoy more of the countdown?

No. 40: Gage Quinney
No. 39: Tim Breslin
No. 38: Nathan Oystrick
No. 37: Ben Simon
No. 36: Curtis McKenzie
No. 35: Kamil Piros
No. 34: Mark Mancari
No. 33: Simon Gamache
No. 32: Guy Larose
No. 31: Wade Megan
No. 30: Shane Harper
No. 29: Michael Davies
No. 28: Karl Stewart
No. 27: Cory Larose
No. 26: Pat Cannone
No. 25: Brian Wiseman
No. 24: Colin Stuart
No. 23: Brian Noonan
No. 22: Tim Bergland
No. 21: Joey Crabb
No. 20: Jordan Lavallee-Smotherman
No. 19: Dan Currie
No. 18: Dan Plante
No. 17: Bob Nardella
No. 16: Brandon Pirri
No. 15: Steve Martins
No. 14: Spencer Machacek
No. 13: Kevin Doell
No. 12: Niklas Andersson
No. 11: Ty Rattie
No. 10: Scott Pearson