Welcome to the Sunday Conversation. Today we’ll talk about players who will need to have an exceptional training camp in order to make the roster. I’m going to look at some veterans only, and not touch on any rookies such as Quinton Howden, Jonathan Huberdeau or Erik Gudbranson, whom I fully expect to be on the roster anyway.
One of the first players that concerns me is Jack “Crash” Skille, who came over from the Chicago Blackhawks in February as part of the Michael Frolik trade. Skille was a 7th overall draft pick for the Blackhawks and never seemed to live up to his billing. Struggling to score and find that consistency, Skille was shipped here as Dale Tallon was hoping that Jack could elevate his play and prove that he could play with the top six forwards. At best I see “Crash” playing on the fourth line. Unless he has a tremendous camp and virtually lights the lamp on every other shot, I don’t see any other way he pulls ahead of the likes of Kris Versteeg, Sean Bergenheim and even Tomas Kopecky. While Skille can play with an edge and has the ability to be physical, he’ll also need to score some goals to secure a roster spot.
Shawn Matthias is looking at a make or break year. Not exactly in the way you think, but with a two-way contract for this season, and a one way for next year, if Shawn doesn’t play with the “promise” that he came here with, he’ll be looking at time in San Antonio. There have been times when Shawn has looked like a player who has the ability to be a solid contributor to the Florida Panthers. And at other times he’s seem to have suffered from some of the same issues that other young and promising Panthers have suffered from…..the inability to find the net……consistently. This year, he’ll have to prove more than ever that he belongs here. Almost like having another audition, if Shawn’s training camp is mediocre it won’t be enough for him to be here. His contract issue behind him, he’ll need to concentrate and focus on playing the best hockey of his young career.
When Ryan Carter was acquired from Carolina last season my initial reaction was why? Looking at his stats I felt we had enough players like him, and didn’t know what his purpose was. After watching him play a few games, I had a different outlook. No, he’s not going to score 20 goals, but he’ll give you an honest effort every night, play hard, be energetic and drop the mitts if needed. A prototypical fourth line player who can win a job if he plays like he did at the close of lasts season, Ryan has a chance to be that rugged fourth line energy guy, and not be out of place doing so. We also won’t be embarrassed to limit his ice time to 5ive minutes per game.
Lastly, and this may come as a bit of a shocker, but I’m thinking that one of our defencemen such as Jason Garrison or Mike Weaver could be in for a real dogfight for a roster position. With the apparent glut of defencemen coming to camp, including Keaton Ellerby, who’s on a one-way contract and Erik Gudbranson (another subtle plug) who has nothing to prove in juniors, I see Garrison or Weaver needing to be almost flawless. In my mind, I don’t think Gudbranson is here to be an extra defensemen, he’s here to be in the top six, and likely top four (another subtle plug).
Well Panther fans, did I leave someone out? Do you agree or disagree with my list?
Go ahead…..talk amongst yourselves by hitting the comment tab at the top of this article.
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