ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The Panthers may have a serious logjam on defense this training camp, but Keaton Ellerby is doing everything he can to stay in the thick of the competition.
Ellerby, the 10th overall pick of the 2007 draft, has impressed coach Pete DeBoer with his commitment to training this offseason.
“He's been in the minors for two full seasons and eventually you need to make a statement that you are willing to do whatever it takes to be an NHL player,'' said DeBoer. “We haven't seen that kind of commitment from him until now. But that's how you grab a job. We're not handing out jobs. He has to grab one. We have a lot of veterans signed and he needs to take a job from someone.''
Ellerby may be starting his third season in Rochester, but he says things are going to be different. By adding 20-plus pounds during the summer, Ellerby has definitely filled out. He's playing more physical with the added strength and that is giving him more confidence.
One big knock on Ellerby over the past few years was that he didn't play like a 6-foot-4 defenseman. He's starting to now. In Thursday's preseason game against the Bruins, Ellerby took out veteran forward Milan Lucic at center ice.
“It's been a fun training camp and it's been nice getting into a couple games right off the hop,'' said Ellerby, who played limited shifts in his 22 games with the Panthers last season. “It was a long summer, I put on 20 something pounds because they told me I needed to get bigger, fill out. I ate a ton of calories and did a lot of heavy lifting. There wasn't much time off, but it was really good.''
When Ellerby was drafted, a number of scouts compared him to then-Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester because of his size and skating ability. Unlike Bouwmeester, Ellerby has been forced to take a longer route to the NHL and one would think he has been burdened by the comparisons. That doesn't seem to be the case as Ellerby has switched up his number to the one Bouwmeester wore up until leaving for Calgary last summer.
“I did what I could over the summer and have worked hard so if I play well in the games, hopefully I can steal a job on the backend,'' Ellerby said.
-- David Booth made his first appearance of the preseason on Thursday – the first game action since his season was ended with a concussion in Montreal. Booth missed 54 games last season after suffering two concussions.
Booth looked in midseason form, scoring Florida's first two goals.
“He's saying all the right things and looks good,'' DeBoer said. “Once he gets comfortable on the ice with contact and everyone flying around, I think he'll be great again.''
THURSDAY'S PRESEASON GAME – PANTHERS 3, BRUINS 2: Booth scored a pair of goals and Dennis Wideman added another as Tyler Plante held off the Bruins at Rochester's War Memorial.
Florida held a 3-1 lead when Tomas Vokoun (13 saves on 14 shots) turned things over to Plante. The Rochester goalie made a number of big glove saves and ended up making 16 saves.
The Panthers travel to Boston and face the Bruins at the Garden on Saturday night. Florida is 2-0 in the preseason; Boston is 1-1.