With the 2011-12 season sadly in the rear-view window, it’s once again time for The Rat Trick to take a look back at those who had the biggest impact on the the Florida Panthers. Over the coming days, we’ll look at review everyone who had key roles in the past season and give them the dreaded letter grade.
Today’s showcase is of Keaton Ellerby, a young defender for the Panthers who is trying to fit in with the team and make a name for himself at the same time.
In 2007 the Florida Panthers used their first round pick on defender Keaton Ellerby. The Panthers were hoping that Ellerby eventually will be able to fit in well with the team. However since being drafted five years ago, Ellerby is still struggling to find is spot within the organization.
The past few seasons have been rough of on Ellerby as he has spent time in and out of the AHL, while other defenders within the organization continued to shine. This year was no different. With the additions of Brian Campbell and Ed Jovanovaki, Ellerby began to see his NHL playing time diminish.
The Panthers and all of its fans are hoping for Ellerby to have a tremendous offseason as he can be a key player for the Panthers success. Keaton brings a certain physical presence to the game that is unseen from any other player on this squad. Even though he has been limited, he has shown us signs that he can be a real solid defender for the Panthers. Hopefully, he can overcome his struggles and play to his full potential, which by the way is through the roof. Let’s face the facts; both Jovanovski and Mike Weaver are slowly creeping up there in age. If Ellerby can put together a solid season next year, the Panthers coaches and staff will know that they can turn to Keaton when the older defenders begin to tire out.
Unfortunately, the young defender and high draft pick remains a project. Hopefully he can pick up his game soon and show the entire league what he can do when given the opportunity. Because of his hard work and desire to be the best possible player he can be, I believe that he will indeed take a turn for the better. We are all just hoping that he takes that turn within the next season or two.
Overall Season Grade: D
In all honesty, if someone were to come up to me and ask me who my favorite player on the Florida Panthers is, the answer would be Keaton Ellerby. I love the intensity and emotion that he brings every time his skates touch the ice. However, just because he is my favorite players, I cannot give him anything higher than a D. Hopefully Keaton can have a great offseason as he is looking to improve not only his defensive skill, but his offensive skills as well as he wants to not only have a bigger role with the offense, but a much larger role with the team as well.
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