Angelo Esposito is now a Florida Panther. Well, more accurately, he’s likely the newest member of the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL.

Back in 2007, his Central Scouting report [Google Cache link to a PDF document] called him “a skilled forward with excellent skating ability” and noted that he “sees the ice well and has the ability to make pin-point passes.”

That report also included a 2006 Calgary Sun article titled “This kid not another Sid: Angelo Esposito following his own star” that called him “a can’t-miss top-five draft pick at the 2007 NHL draft” and mentioned that his life was filled with “high expectations and endless Crosby comparisons.”

It also included a 2007 Canadian Press article titled “Sweet skater Angelo Esposito figures to go high in NHL draft.”

That article speculated that Esposito would be drafted first overall in 2007, but noted that “Esposito is not yet considered a consensus No. 1 in the way that Sidney Crosby was in 2005 or Alexander Ovechkin in 2004.”

In that article Esposito was quoted as saying “‘It’s just a dream to be No. 1. If I go first overall to any team I’ll be happy.’”

In the 2007 draft he was selected 20th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Bill Simmons of speculated that Eposito slipping to 20th and being selected by the Penguins “couldn’t have been more rigged.”

At the draft, Penguins general manager Ray Shero said “good players like to play with good players. He has great speed. He’s going to be a real good player.”

He mentioned that the Penguins “didn’t have a nameplate for him because we didn’t think he’d be there at No. 20″ and called him “a wonderful pick.”

In 2008, the Penguins traded Esposito to the Atlanta Thrashers as a part of the Marian Hossa trade. Esposito played with their AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, before returning to the QMJHL.

Also in 2008, his team in the Q, the Quebec Remparts, traded him to the Montreal Juniors. He’s spent the last two years back in the AHL with the Wolves.

Then last week, the newly-moved Winnipeg Jets sent him to the Florida Panthers for Kenndal McArdle.

To date, Esposito has played 70 games in the AHL. He’s scored three goals and picked up 14 assists.

It looks like that Calgary Sun article was right: “This kid is not another Sid.”

It would certainly be nice to see him finally make the NHL with the Panthers. Each step in Esposito’s fall has been painful to watch. He went from being considered a possible first-overall pick to being listed at number 11 in the International Scouting Services final 2007 draft rankings. Then he dropped to 20th at the actual draft. Then he was traded to Atlanta.  Then he had major knee surgery. Twice. Now he’s been traded again, this time to Florida.

It’s always difficult to watch someone struggle.

Googling “Angelo Esposito” leads to some less-than-flattering suggested searches:

When “bust” and “what happened” show up in your suggested searches, you know there’s a problem.

Is this the year for Angelo? The Panthers aren’t exactly stocked with talent, so there may be a chance for him to crack the line-up this season. Then again, the Thrashers weren’t exactly a roaring success either, so that may not matter.

Esposito is only 22 years old, so it’s not like his career is over by any stretch of the imagination. However, things don’t look very good for the once highly-touted prospect. He will likely make the NHL one day, but possibly as a fringe player or a journeyman forward. That’s a pretty big fall from being compared to Crosby, Lecavalier and Lafleur. Even Alexandre Daigle would think so.