The 2011-2012 season for the Panthers was a wild and crazy ride. With massive changes all around, from the front office to the blue line, they made great strides to show that hockey can survive in Florida. The “We See Red” campaign made a huge influence on the fan base in South Florida, as well as draw in more fans than before. Dale Tallon’s complete overhaul of the roster has started to pay off in leaps and bounds, ans this team may have the best chance in a while of running deep into a playoff berth. Without going crazy into the details of the last season, we will take a brief look at some of the “rookies” I feel will make a big impact in the future.
Offense: Michal Repik
The 5’10″ RW from the Czech Republic may not be considered by many as a “rookie”, seeing that he was drafted on ’07. However, he is, for the most part, a rookie as far as his NHL experience is concerned. He has been putting up good numbers in the AHL affiliate, and comes in to play when there are too many blue line injuries. He played 17 games for the Panthers last season, putting up 2 goals, 3 assist, and 5 points (Source: http://panthers.nhl.com/v2/ext/pdf/PanthersSeasonInReview-201112.pdf, pg 25). I would like to see him do better with the Panthers in the future, maybe more pro ice time is the key?
Defense: Tyson Stracthen
The Panthers have been working hard to shore up that D line that has plagued games in the past. He may not be a Panthers drafted player, but he appears to be a solid defensemen. I would keep an eye on him in the future.
Goal: Jacob Markstrom, AKA “Bigfoot”(Pictured Above)
This is the player I am most excited about, and I hope many others are as well. At 6’6″, he is tall for a goalie. However, he fills the net with little effort and can move around well for a man his height in net. He also has put up good numbers in both the NHL and AHL, recording a 0.925 Save % for the Rampage and a 0.923 Save % for the Panthers (source: http://panthers.nhl.com/v2/ext/pdf/PanthersSeasonInReview-201112.pdf, pg 25). Dale Tallon has even said that he is the future of Florida goal-tending. I hope so. I don’t believe that A) Jose Theodore is the future of the club, and B) Sadly, Clemmenson was never set up to be a starting goalie. The Panthers will bring him in to start when he is ready, and when he is, I believe that the Panthers will become an even bigger threat in the NHL.
I am excited to see what happens this season, as long as we have a season to play. However, if the lockout persist, feel free to see these guys as they play for the San Antonio Rampage in the AHL. At least they aren’t locked out.