Development Camp Today. Source: My cell phone

Panther's Development Camp Recap. What Did We Learn?

 

The Florida Panthers rookie development camp concluded it’s third session today at 11:00 A.M., providing us the last glimpse of live hockey till mid September.  Oye! What will we do?  As I met up with one of my partners in crime here on the Rat Trick, Dave Lasseter, we watched for the entire 120 minutes, as the 30 plus players played a quick scrimmage game of five on five….completed some drills….played some four on four, and then some three on three.  According to Dave, Friday’s session was quite a bit more exciting than Tuesday when the players went through drills, making it difficult to judge the talent.  Expert talent evaluators that we are!

The turnout on such a morning was nice to see, as most of the fans attending are all anxiously awaiting the start of the season.  I saw many familiar faces as well as some new faces, which was quite refreshing to both of us as it’s expected that the Bank Atlantic Center will have a few more seats filled with all the summer activity that’s been going on.  You know what they say don’t you?  Build it and they will come.  Well Dale Tallon is certainly doing that not only with free agents, but with two consecutive years of solid drafting.

Who stuck out Friday?  Not in any particular order, but these names come to mind.  Malcolm Lyles, John McFarland and Quinton Howden all showed their speed and goal scoring ability.  Connor Brickley (who) probably had the best offensive day of everyone as if my memory is right scored three times and layed out a big hit.  Some little guy by the name of Rocco Grimaldi was going full speed every time he was on the ice.  No give up in this kid and while he’s small at 5′-6″, he plays with a big heart.  Nick Bjugstad showed that one more year of seasoning should prepare him for a very successful NHL career, and Alex Petrovic and David Pacan continued to impress.  This year’s first round pick for Florida Jonathan Huberdeau has some slick moves and is fast.  I think the only thing he’s going to need to do is put on some weight, and build up his strength.  I couldn’t get much of a feel in goaltending as Brian Foster, and Marc Cheverie did the bulk of the work.

The star of the day in more ways than one for me however was Erik Gudbranson.  Yes, I have a man crush on this kid and if you’ve seen what I’ve seen so would you.  He placed some well timed hard hits a few times that just made you smile when you saw it happen.  At one point a puck was going into the corner and a froward who was ahead of Erik was after the puck.  I looked quickly at Dave and said this won’t be good, and sure enough Erik layed the boom.  He’s the real thing.  The real deal.  Each time I see him I’m so impressed with his play, his composure and his ability.  Last year he was tall, lanky and young looking.  This year he appears taller, gained some weight, and has matured in his face.  For a 19 year old, he seems to have all the right tools, and is going to be a fan favourite right away when he makes the team.  Which leads me to this:  just shortly after leaving the session it was announced that Erik was signed to an entry level contract, thus ending the worry and concern of his future.   The community of Sunrise, Florida and Panther nation celebrated and let out a collective sigh of relief.

While I only saw a glimpse, or should I say a two hour segment of what’s in store for the future,  it’s refreshing to see that we’re getting faster, more skilled, and on defence we’re getting bigger.  Most of the promising defencemen that we have are 6′-3″ or taller.   It’s clear that the transformation of this hockey club is starting to take shape.

The future is bright, the pieces are falling into place.

Thanks for reading.   We welcome your comments and opinions.

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Tags: Alex Petrovic Dale Tallon Erik Gudbranson Florida Panthers John Mcfarland Malcolm Lyles Quinton Howden Rocco Grimaldi

  • CP1

    I am not one to comment on sports blogs. In fact, I have done so only once and it was an emotional diatribe lamenting the collapse of my beloved NY Giants at home against the Eagles, in what is without a doubt the embarrassment of the decade. But this is a Panther blog so lets get to the point.

    I have been involved in hockey for almost 50 years as both a player (not just recreational), a coach, and mostly a fan. I was here on Day 1 when Bill Torrey and Bobby Clarke were empowered by Wayne H and his billions to bring hockey to South Florida. Those early years were great fun and 1996, the Year of the Rat was a memory I will never forget. Outside of those first 7 years, this team has been just a mess of disorganization, lack of long term planning, and dizzying changes of management direction. With every new GM from Keenan, to Martin, to Dudley, hopes ran high, only to fall out of sight like a lead balloon. Soon the fans disappeared and even those with resilience were painfully and slowly dying a hockey fan’s death.

    While I am not one to rise to very high “highs”, nor one to fall to very low “lows”, my hockey soul has been reenergized by what Dale Tallon has done and continues to do. Despite the bizarre and unrelenting negative rhetoric from those pure bred hockey analysts from the North, I simply cannot disagree more. Dale in two years has absolutely changed the entire direction and culture of the Panthers. He simply walked in and began dismantling years of painful neglect, but did so with a masterful well thought out and incredibly simple and sane plan. Wipe out any and all associated with the decade long legacy of losing and lack of heart. Rid yourself of anyone who did not want to be here, and those that did not deserve to be here. Take that few that remained and use them as a nucleus of the future. Begin with the draft, and choose those made up of equal levels of skill and character. Let them slowly mature and develop skills. In the meanwhile, re-create a roster of young and older veterans who are united by three common denominators. They all know what winning is. They are devoid of the losing Panther culture. They are all coming in as new players on a new team. so they do not have to worry about fitting in well within an established team clique. They as a collective group will become that new team. They realize without a doubt that they have the opportunity to do something very special here.

    Personally, I love the talent. No 50 goal scorers! Just a bunch of hard working 20 goal scoring types. Any line can win the game, and I bet that will happen. The defense is a combination of skill and grit. Most exciting though are our young prospects. They are a very, very talented group! When they mature, watch out! This team will be in the playoffs next year. For that I am confident. More importantly, this team will be one of the elite organizations for the next decade and more. Is there a Stanley Cup in our future? While I do not truly know, I would not take any bets against it. Thanks Dale!

    A Reenergized Panther Fan

  • CP1

    I am not one to comment on sports blogs. In fact, I have done so only once and it was an emotional diatribe lamenting the collapse of my beloved NY Giants at home against the Eagles, in what is without a doubt the embarrassment of the decade. But this is a Panther blog so lets get to the point.

    I have been involved in hockey for almost 50 years as both a player (not just recreational), a coach, and mostly a fan. I was here on Day 1 when Bill Torrey and Bobby Clarke were empowered by Wayne H and his billions to bring hockey to South Florida. Those early years were great fun and 1996, the Year of the Rat was a memory I will never forget. Outside of those first 7 years, this team has been just a mess of disorganization, lack of long term planning, and dizzying changes of management direction. With every new GM from Keenan, to Martin, to Dudley, hopes ran high, only to fall out of sight like a lead balloon. Soon the fans disappeared and even those with resilience were painfully and slowly dying a hockey fan’s death.

    While I am not one to rise to very high “highs”, nor one to fall to very low “lows”, my hockey soul has been reenergized by what Dale Tallon has done and continues to do. Despite the bizarre and unrelenting negative rhetoric from those pure bred hockey analysts from the North, I simply cannot disagree more. Dale in two years has absolutely changed the entire direction and culture of the Panthers. He simply walked in and began dismantling years of painful neglect, but did so with a masterful well thought out and incredibly simple and sane plan. Wipe out any and all associated with the decade long legacy of losing and lack of heart. Rid yourself of anyone who did not want to be here, and those that did not deserve to be here. Take that few that remained and use them as a nucleus of the future. Begin with the draft, and choose those made up of equal levels of skill and character. Let them slowly mature and develop skills. In the meanwhile, re-create a roster of young and older veterans who are united by three common denominators. They all know what winning is. They are devoid of the losing Panther culture. They are all coming in as new players on a new team. so they do not have to worry about fitting in well within an established team clique. They as a collective group will become that new team. They realize without a doubt that they have the opportunity to do something very special here.

    Personally, I love the talent. No 50 goal scorers! Just a bunch of hard working 20 goal scoring types. Any line can win the game, and I bet that will happen. The defense is a combination of skill and grit. Most exciting though are our young prospects. They are a very, very talented group! When they mature, watch out! This team will be in the playoffs next year. For that I am confident. More importantly, this team will be one of the elite organizations for the next decade and more. Is there a Stanley Cup in our future? While I do not truly know, I would not take any bets against it. Thanks Dale!

    A Reenergized Panther Fan

  • FrankRekas

    Thanks for the great comment. It’s something that is felt by the writers on this site, and many other Panther fans. We’ve waited a long time for this type of transformation.

    Thanks again CP1 for commenting.

  • FrankRekas

    Thanks for the great comment. It’s something that is felt by the writers on this site, and many other Panther fans. We’ve waited a long time for this type of transformation.

    Thanks again CP1 for commenting.