Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Sun Sentinel,
Comment:The kids have grown up enough. The roster is now deep enough. The Panthers slip into the playoffs, which considering recent history is the bar for a successful season.
Comment: After a league-best 25-point improvement last season, the Panthers are expecting to challenge for a Stanley Cup. Coach Gerard Gallant will roll out three balanced lines filled with a half-dozen players who should score 20 or more goals. However, it’s imperative that ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr, who instantly boosts the power play, and 36-year-old goalie Roberto Luongo remain healthy.
from Alain Poupart at NHL.com,
Should age be a concern? Given the makeup of their nucleus, it's accurate to call the Panthers a young team. But the reality is they also depend on some players whose careers are winding down.
The one who stands out is goalie Roberto Luongo, who is coming off a solid season but who turned 36 in April. Luongo has yet to show signs of decline, but the combination of his age and his importance makes it crucial it doesn't happen this season.
Defenseman Brian Campbell, who turned 36 in May, has led the Panthers in ice time all four seasons he's been with the team. Also, don't discount the role he played in Aaron Ekblad winning the Calder Trophy last season. Captain Willie Mitchell also logged significant minutes on defense last season; he turned 38 in April.
Lastly, there's Jagr, whose significant contribution to the Panthers late last season has provided a good part of the optimism for 2015-16. Jagr was impressive after arriving from New Jersey, and his legendary work ethic gives him a chance to continue to be productive. But it's also impossible to overlook the fact he's 43 and there will come when he simply can't make an impact anymore.
from Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald,
... Thornton took some time to weigh in on a few subjects.
One of them was the Bruins story of the summer, Dougie Hamilton’s trade to the Calgary Flames, a move that was seemingly what the young defenseman wanted.
“I don’t care, to be completely honest. He’s not my teammate. He wasn’t last year and he isn’t next year,” said Thornton. “Listen, I’m a little surprised. I love Boston and for someone to want to get out of it, I don’t get it, especially in the first few years (of his career). But it’s his world. He had decisions to make and that’s the one he made. Hopefully he’s happy in Calgary.”...
Thornton is 38 and is heading into the last year of his deal with Florida. Is this his last NHL season?
“I’m OK either way,” he said. “I’m going into my 19th year. I’m happy with what’s happened in my career and I’m OK if I have to shut ‘er down,” he said. “If I have a tough year and that’s it, then so be it. But if I happen to have a good year, things work out and somebody wants to give me a paycheck for another year, I’m more than happy. I mean, I love competing, I love the game, I love staying in shape, I love being around the guys. I’ve said it before, I’ll play till they rip the skates off me. If that happens to be (next) summer, then it is. If it’s the summer after, then even better.”
via the Toronto Maple Leafs,
The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that the hockey club has acquired forward Zach Hyman and a conditional seventh round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft from the Florida Panthers in exchange for forward Greg McKegg.
Hyman, 23, was a First Team All-American and First Team All-Big Ten selection after leading the Big Ten with 54 points (22 goals, 32 assists) while playing for the University of Michigan last season. He was also named a top ten finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. In 152 games with Michigan, Hyman recorded 89 points (35 goals, 54 assists) and 42 penalty minutes. In 2011, he was named the Canadian Junior Hockey League Player of the Year after collecting 102 points in 43 games with the Hamilton Red Wings (OJHL). The Toronto, Ontario native was originally selected in the fifth round (123rd overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
from David J. Neal of the Miami Herald,
How appropriate: The general manager of the team hosting the 2015 NHL Draft next week says none of his team’s remaining unrestricted free agents will receive an offer and the roster will get younger next year.
And that team, the Panthers, will be searching for a swift, goal-scoring winger with the 11th overall pick in the annual pick-and-pray June 26 and 27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise.
“We’re going to go young and see what’s available July 1 [first day of the free agency signing period],” Panthers GM Dale Tallon said. “I like young teams, I like young players. We have some good young players in our system and we’re going to give them an opportunity. I think that’s the direction we need to go in. My goal is to have 20 guys on our team that are all drafts of ours. I don’t think that can happen, but that’s the goal.”
So, wingers Tomas Kopecky, Scottie Upshall and goalie Dan Ellis can intensify their searches for new hockey homes or new retirement homes. Tallon said the restricted free agents, such as Jonathan Huberdeau, will receive offers and they want to lock down their core in long-term deals such as the one they signed center Nick Bjugstad to late last season.
Meanwhile, they’ll continue searching for a goal-scorer to complete a Panthers talent garden showing signs of bearing fruit bountifully.
added 1:53pm, Florida press release is below...
via the Florida Panthers,
Florida Panthers Executive Vice President and General Manager Dale Tallon announced today that F Nick Bjugstad underwent successful surgery on his lower back today at the Mayo Sports Clinic in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He will be out for the remainder of the regular season and a full recovery is expected.
“After consulting with Nick and thoroughly evaluating the extent of his injury, we mutually felt it was important to have this procedure done as soon as possible,” said Tallon. “Nick showed a tremendous amount of character over the past month, playing through an injury, while helping our club compete down the final stretch for a playoff spot. He will be closely monitored by our medical staff during his rehabilitation process and will be ready for the start of training camp in September.”
from Katie Baker of Grantland,
“You don’t even want to know what’s been going on at my house,” said Megan Mitchell, and for once she wasn’t referring to a lively dinner party, a messy cooking class, or a late-late-night fishing session off the backyard dock. Her eyes were bright but battle-weary; they had the sanity-deprived look you might see in a mother of triplets or a junior investment banker. She’d been through some shit.
It’s one thing to share a house with a 6-foot-plus, 200-pound-plus NHL player suffering from what his team gently describes as “flu-like symptoms.” But it’s quite another to have to deal with two of them.
Both of Megan’s roommates had come home from work infected with some sort of superbug — “the norovirus,” is how she diagnosed it — that turned her serene home into a makeshift infectious diseases ward. One was her husband, Willie Mitchell, the 37-year-old captain of the Florida Panthers. The other was 19-year-old Aaron Ekblad, the promising young rookie she sometimes calls her son.
When the Mitchells relocated from Southern California to South Florida this summer, they had no idea they’d wind up harboring a teen.
from George Richards of On Frozen Pond,
In his first year as coach of the Panthers, Gerard Gallant has not let his emotions rise too high nor sink very low based on the outcome of a game.
Tuesday night, however, Gallant couldn't hide his disappointment nor frustration in what could be an extremely costly defeat.
The Panthers' playoff hopes took a major hit when Tampa Bay scored twice in the third period to come back to beat the visitors from South Florida 4-3.
Florida scored three goals in a span of 1:58 in the second period to take a lead into the third, but the hard-nosed Lightning never stopped coming.
"We battled back, we took the lead. The last goal cost us the hockey game,'' Gallant said.
"We played well, it's a disappointing loss. We gave up three weak goals -- not by the goaltending but by defensive zone coverage and not battling, not working. We played hard, but you can't give up three goals like that.''
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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