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Catching Up on a Thursday: Talking Panthers with Randy Sexton

Ross Happy Thursday to everyone, hope summer is treating you well.

With no hockey on tonight (we're all anxiously anticipating Friday's Game 7 in Boston) here's an update on what's going around Pantherland.

First off, spoke with GM Randy Sexton today about a few things.

He's basically been scouting the NHL and AHL playoffs while also checking out prospects and such. He'll be in Brandon, Manitoba, for the Memorial Cup -- the Panthers have two prospects playing.

-- One thing we talked about were restricted free agents, with Sexton saying they have a pretty good idea of which players the Panthers will tender. He wouldn't tell me what decisions have been made, but of the four major restricted free agents Florida has, I would think the Panthers make offers to Jason Garrison and Kenndal McArdle as well as Gregory Campbell. I don't think Kamil Kreps is coming back, but the Panthers could surprise us and tender him as well.

Florida doesn't have any unrestricted free agents this season.

Sexton all but said McArdle would be coming back -- and this makes plenty of sense. The Panthers made him a first round pick in the Sidney Crosby draft of 2005 and feel he turned a major corner this season before getting hurt.

McArdle had surgery on both shoulders this season, injuries Sexton called "disappointing,'' only because McArdle was playing so well. Sexton says he doesn't think McArdle's injuries will affect him in the future, although he knows it's a possibility. "I hope this is it for him as far as shoulder injuries go,'' he said.

-- Sexton adds that he thinks there are going to be quite a few trades pulled off once the Stanley Cup Finals are complete. He says he's getting his work done so the Panthers could be a team in play once the deals start cooking.

-- Sexton also said the Panthers are totally pulling in the preseason travel after the team had slow starts following their world tours. The Panthers are going to play on the road, but will also play at least two home preseason games. Sexton said the Panthers are talking with the Lightning about playing two games in the preseason.

Florida will also play at Boston and Montreal with a home game in Rochester against the Bruins. The Panthers are also expected to visit Carolina. The Hurricanes could be coming south for a Sunrise visit as well.

The team will announce the preseason schedule sometime later this summer once things are finalized. Training camp will open in Coral Springs so those rumors about a few days in Canada seem to be unfounded -- unless they camp out for a few days before/after the Canadiens game.

-- The Panthers are all but done with signing prospects after inking center Scott Timmins to an entry level deal.

This from the Panthers release:

Timmins, 20, played in 56 games for the Windsor Spitfires (OHL) this season, registering 54 points (30-24-54) and a plus-28 rating. In 19 playoff contests, Timmins scored 11 goals with 11 assists, helping Windsor advance to the 2010 Memorial Cup, his third appearance in as many years.

He previously played in the Memorial Cup with Windsor (2008-09) and Kitchener (2007-08). Timmins was also selected as the OHL’s best defensive forward and best penalty killer as selected by the league’s coaches.

The Hamilton, Ontario native was drafted by Florida in the sixth round (165th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.  Timmins becomes the sixth prospect to be signed by Florida this off-season, joining Colby Robak, AJ Jenks, Marc Cheverie, Adam Comrie, and Eric Selleck.

Now, when I say all but done, the big signing of the summer is goalie Jacob Markstrom. The Panthers can't do that until after the World Championships -- where Markstrom is 2-0. Sexton says he's excited about the future of the Panthers in goal once Markstrom gets signed.

-- We didn't talk about the Panthers coaching staff nor what the plans were in Rochester. We'll save that for another day once Pete DeBoer returns from the World Championships in Germany. 

-- Steve Goldstein is holding his annual golf tournament on Friday at the Miccosukee Golf Club in Kendall. It's a great event that benefit's Goldie's Gang. Here is their website. I think if you want to play, they can get you in. Kickoff is at noon.