Kukla's Korner Hockey
from George Richards of the Miami Herald,
After a month on crutches, Luongo began his rehabilitation and returned to the ice Aug. 5 -- and hasn't come off since.
Although Luongo said if the season started Thursday, he probably wouldn't be able to start, he says he is feeling good and plans to be in net when the Panthers actually do open their season Oct. 13 at BB&T Center against the Devils.
"I'm excited, hopeful to be where I want to be when everything gets going," Luongo said after an informal workout Wednesday morning at the IceDen in Coral Springs.
"I started skating Aug. 5 and there has been slow progression but we've ramped it up here the past week or so and it has been good.
"I'm not 100 percent; it's a five month rehab. But I'm feeling better than I thought I would. I thought it would be a slower progression, especially on the ice. It has gone fairly quickly and I'm happy about that. If the season were to start tomorrow, I probably wouldn't be able to go. But I feel good where I'm at and I'm excited about it."
from Travis Yost of TSN,
One of the more intriguing signings of the off-season was that of goaltender James Reimer by the Florida Panthers.
The move makes a lot of sense for both parties involved. For Reimer, he’s got a very real long-term opportunity at leading a team and seeing significant ice-time – something that has been hit-or-miss through the earlier parts of his career. For Florida, they have now an easy, smooth transition in the crease. Current starter Roberto Luongo is now 37-years of age, and at some point, the Panthers needed to start hedging against age and mileage degradation. To that end, Reimer is a fantastic bet.
The curious part of this goaltending dynamic is really in the short-term. The logical solution is to create a 1A/1B scenario in Florida, where Luongo and Reimer will shoulder an equitable share in net. This will alleviate some of the workload for the older Luongo and provide real shot-stopping competency in the 30-or-40 games that Reimer does work the crease.
There is an interesting wrinkle, however; Luongo’s performance isn’t diminishing. In fact, he seems to be enjoying a late-career renaissance period that we have really only seen from a handful of players. Whereas most players at this stage of their careers are hanging on by a thread, Luongo’s trekking on the path blazed by Jaromir Jagr – excellence that’s superseded with each passing year despite every reason to be hesitant about his game heading south.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
If his fists were his primary tools for NHL employment, Shawn Thornton would be out of work. Former peers and current casualties of the NHL’s retreat from fighting include John Scott and Brandon Prust, two players, given the intimacy of the enforcers’ club, whose résumés include dust-ups with Thornton.
That Thornton is under contract for his 20th season — and likeliest his last — of professional hockey underscores how the rest of the ex-Bruin’s assets remain too valuable for the Panthers to be without. As his once-busy knuckles now stay mostly hidden within his gloves, Thornton has guaranteed himself a $600,000 payday not just because he’s good in the room or has two fingers decorated with rings.
The 39-year-old can still play.
Last season, Thornton scored one goal and four assists in 50 games while averaging 8:41 of ice time per outing. Thornton landed 58 pucks on net, giving him a rate of 7.99 shots on goal per 60 minutes of play.
continued plus more hockey topics...
Rowe is a hockey lifer, a respected mind and gave Tallon his full and due respect. But it's clear something happened inside the team we don't know about, something that made Viola break with Tallon and side with Rowe. Something all about direction and philosophy, as these moves show.
A gamble? Absolutely. Tallon's personnel decisions stack up like gold bars. His core of talent, including Vincent Trocheck and Reilly Smith, who were on display with new deals Thursday, are why the Panthers will win for years.
Rowe's moves will decide how big they win.
For years, the Panthers had a series of owners who wouldn't spend money. Viola spent this off-season beyond what anyone imagined. That shows how much he wants to win.
His biggest move, though, was picking Rowe over Tallon. It was a hockey mind with new ideas over a hockey mind with a great eye for talent. These ideas will tell just how far $200 million will take this team.
-Dave Hyde of the SunSentinel where you can read more on the Panthers.
from Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald,
Out went the foursome of Brian Campbell, Willie Mitchell, Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov.
In came the trio of Keith Yandle, Jason Demers and Mark Pysyk. The first two are a pair of veterans with 17 combined years of NHL experience. The third is an up-and-coming 24-year-old who has shown flashes of potential over the last four years with the Buffalo Sabres and their AHL counterpart, the Rochester Americans.
“We felt these were three guys that we wanted to go after aggressively so they could complement the pieces we had up front,” Panthers General Manager Tom Rowe said.
Rowe said the vision for the Panthers’ blue line features players who aren’t afraid to be offensive-minded. It’s a transition to a style similar to that of the Tampa Bay Lightning and San Jose Sharks, two teams that have reached the Stanley Cup Finals within the last two years.
They aren’t just defensemen anymore, Rowe said. When the opportunity presents itself, they need to take hold of the puck, drive up the ice and make the play, whether that’s passing it to a forward or taking their own shot.
from Harvey Fialkov of the SunSentinel,
"You’d like to have your team back as a coach but at the same time there’s salary-cap issues that come into play,’’ Gallant said. “It’s different than it used to be before. I definitely was a little bit surprised but overall we got a pretty good club. You put it on the board and you’re pretty excited.’’
Gallant, who watched development camp from the sidelines with his new assistants, Dave Barr and Scott Allen, said he’s not overally concerned about incorporating four new defensemen into the lineup.
“I wanted us to be a better team and we are going to be a better team,’’ he said. “On paper I think we are but you got to do it on the ice. There’s some good players we signed. They’re puck-moving guys and skilled guys.
"Let’s put it together and see what happens. I’m not taking anything away from last year’s 103-points. We were a really good team that took big steps. We got to be better again.’’
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
- Seriously. After one full season in the NHL, in which Vincent Trocheck recorded 25 goals and 53 points to complete his three-year entry level contract — under which he posted 37 goals and 83 points in 137 games — the Panthers rewarded the 22-year-old center with a six-year deal worth $4.75 million per.
We get it. Each market is an entity unto itself. The Puddy Tats are re-branding and spending, giving an eight-year extension at $7.5 million per to elite young defenseman Aaron Ekblad with still a season to go on his original entry-level deal while splurging for seven years at $6.35 million per to free-agent defenseman Keith Yandle. And this after awarding their brilliant 20-year-old pivot Aleksander Barkov with a six-year contract worth $5.9 million per over the winter before his entry-level deal expired.
New ownership has a product to sell in Sunrise, Fla., and this apparently is part of their marketing strategy. Maybe it will even work for them.
But entry level and the corresponding second contract represent the only time management owns leverage in negotiations....
- If outstanding 20-year-old Colorado winger Nathan MacKinnon is worth $6.3 million per over seven years coming off entry level as per his new deal, then good luck to Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman in his negotiations to sign 23-year-old Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning’s most dynamic forward over their past two deep playoff runs, to his second contract.
more on each of the above plue other hockey topics...
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
Like their West Coast counterparts, the Panthers and Lightning used to be pushovers. Four points were as guaranteed as a rejuvenating dose of Vitamin C. Not anymore. In 2016-17, the 28 other teams will require a handful of aspirin to accompany their glasses of orange juice following what could be back-to-back poundings. Florida and California are now the toughest states in the NHL, which would never have been spotted in any crystal ball.
But that’s the reality after the infrastructure that Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman built convinced Steven Stamkos the grass wasn’t greener elsewhere, even if the dollars were. Stamkos left stacks of cash on the table by signing an eight-year, $68 million extension when he could have scored a double-digit average annual value on the open market....
Yzerman’s offseason work isn’t finished. He will re-sign Kucherov, Alex Killorn, and Vladislav Namestnikov. Yzerman would be in better cap space to do so if he trades Ben Bishop, who has one year remaining on his contract. But wheeling the goalie this summer isn’t automatic. The Lightning would be best served with Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy backstopping one more Cup push in 2016-17 before they part ways with the ex-University of Maine netminder.
A two-goalie net is the plan for the Panthers, who supplemented Roberto Luongo by signing James Reimer to a five-year, $17 million contract. It was one of eight deals the Panthers signed in an 11-day span. Between June 23 and July 3, the Panthers committed $203,600,000 in salary to Reimer, Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle, Vincent Trocheck, Reilly Smith, Jason Demers, Derek MacKenzie, Colton Sceviour, and Jonathan Marchessault.
General manager Tom Rowe wore out his hand while signing all the contracts. Owner Vincent Viola, meanwhile, monitored his checking account to make sure it wasn’t overdrawn. It was a thunderous announcement by the Panthers: that a first-round playoff loss to the Islanders was only the beginning of their renaissance.
more on this plus other hockey topics...
from Kevin Paul Dupont also of the Boston Globe,
SUNRISE, Fla – Florida Panthers General Manager Tom Rowe announced today that the Panthers have signed forward Reilly Smith to a five-year contract extension. As per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.
“Reilly was a key player for our team last season,” said Rowe. “He is a valuable contributor to our offense and special teams and is an important part of our talented group of forwards”
The 25-year old Smith recorded 50 points (25-25-50) in 82 games for Florida during the 2015-16 season. His 25 goals marked a career-high and ranked him tied for third on the Panthers. Smith was only one of two Panthers to play in all 82 regular season games.
added 3:16pm, Comparables are below vie General Fanager....
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com