In hockey, as in every other professional team sport, are an expected part of the game. What separates the good organizations from the bad ones is the depth that they have to make up for injuries. In years past, the weakness of the Florida Panthers showed in its alarming lack of depth. One of Dale Tallon’s goals when he first took over was to make this a team a deep one.
The additions of defensemen Dennis Wideman and Mike Weaver pushed Panther prospect Keaton Ellerby back to Rochester, the Panthers AHL affiliate. Ellerby has become a super sub of sorts as he begins his third stint with the big club tonight against the Boston Bruins. Once again, he’ll be replacing the injured Jason Garrison in the lineup.
Ellerby, a 22 year old Strathmore, Alberta native, has more than stepped up to the task of filling in. Through the seven games he’s played, he has three points (0g, 3a, +5 rating) but more importantly, has been solid in his defensive responsibilities. Thought to be not strong enough to play at the top level, he’s shown so far this season that is not the case. When a rookie D is playing at a +5, even through seven games, it makes you take notice.
If anything, it gives Tallon confidence that should a deal for veteran Bryan McCabe and his expiring contract be presented, that Ellerby can step in and not be a negative to the team. That’s what quality depth can buy you. The ability to make moves for the future without burying the present.
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