Florida Panthers training camp is officially underway. There are 54 players (not including goalies) on the initial training camp roster. Those 54 players will be competing for 18 roster spots which means, the majority of players in camp will not be with the team when the Panthers face the Dallas Stars in their season opener. Below, I have placed every skater on the Panthers training camp roster into one of four tiers. The tiers are named after Beatles albums that loosely describe the players in them. Let’s proceed:
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
The players in the Sgt. Pepper’s tier are the virtual roster locks. These are the players that, if they do not make the team, I will retire from writing about hockey (not really). They are, metaphorically speaking, in the band. There are eight forwards listed below which means there will be about four spots completely up for grabs during camp. On the defensive side of things, I have five players in the Sgt. Pepper division which means there may not be much room for younger defenders trying to make the team. Ed Jovanovski is a bit of a wild card, he may or may not be healthy when the season starts and if he is healthy, chances are he won’t be for long.
Please Please Me
These are the guys that will be fighting over the vacant roster spots. If they can impress (or please, if you will) the coaches, they could find themselves on the roster when the season gets under way. This group is a mix of young players looking to establish themselves, and veteran players hoping to hold onto their NHL careers. Some of the forwards have better shots than others (Barkov, Boyes, Gomez for example) but are not locks for roster spots just yet.
Magical Mystery Tour
These are the long shots. The Magical Mystery Tour tier consists of players who have had success in the AHL but have yet to break through the NHL glass ceiling, and it also consists of younger players who may have been hotshots in juniors but will probably need some seasoning in the minors before they can make an impact in the NHL (see: Vincent Trocheck). What we will get from these players is a bit of a mystery, but if they have a magical camp, they could be rewarded with a tour of the NHL. (See what I did there?)
This tier needs no explaining. These are the players that we can confidently assume will not make the Panthers’ roster no matter what happens in camp. Most of these players are young and their purpose for coming to camp is to gain valuable experience that will help them make the team down the road.