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Florida Panthers Playing for Jobs in 2011-12


In the midst of the team's longest losing streak since 2005, it's hard to find many silver linings for the Florida Panthers. When this season finally does come to an official close Saturday against the Capitals, many changes are in store.

For some players on this current roster, what they do through the final week of the season could determine whether or not they are invited back.

“You're looking for energy out of those guys,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “You have to notice them when they hop over the boards,'' DeBoer said. “If I was a player, I would be doing everything I could over these last games to not just blend in.''

As much as some members of the Panthers deny it, the team is in full tryout mode as players hope to impress and get a contract offer for next year.

Some are doing a much better job of that than others. Ryan Carter, Jack Skille and Clay Wilson have all shown the Panthers they are worth future considerations.

“Ryan Carter is separating himself from the group,'' DeBoer said of the 27-year-old who came to the Panthers in the Cory Stillman deal with Carolina around trade deadline time. “A lot of other guys have blended in.''

Jack Skille has definitely been noticed for his physical play. Skille hasn't played much because of an ankle injury, but he was very aggressive on Saturday against the Penguins and scored his first goal as a member of the Panthers. Skille came to Florida in February as part of the Michael Frolik deal with the Blackhawks.

“Give the guy credit for keep coming back through the injuries,'' assistant general manager Mike Santos said. “He's shown how much he wants to be here and how much he wants to play. We're looking for guys with his kind of character. Other guys in the room should look at him and say 'I need to play like that'. He has the right attitude, the right character. That's what we're looking for. Pete has been saying it and it's true: Guys should be playing for jobs.''

Wilson has had a cup of coffee with Atlanta, Columbus and the Panthers prior to this season. Wilson came into the season with one NHL goal; in the past three weeks, he's scored three.

“This is my sixth year and I'm still a 'call-up' guy. I just try to do the best with what opportunities I get,'' said Wilson, who scored 22 seconds after Skille did Saturday against the Penguins. “This has been about as good an opportunity I've had. It's been a good experience, I've learned a lot. Any time you get to play in different roles, it's good to get that chance. Every night is an interview here.''

Then there is the curious case of Tim Kennedy.

Kennedy has only played in three NHL games this season – all with the Panthers. Kennedy had been stashed in the minors first by the Rangers (he played for the Sabres last year before being bought out over the summer) before the Panthers also banished him to the minors knowing if they called him up, they would lose him through the waiver process.

Once the Panthers did call Kennedy up on March 8, the speedy winger didn't do much and he was sent back to the minors. Kennedy was scheduled to join the team Saturday night, but because of a mistake by the Panthers front office, he won't be able to until Wednesday in Washington.

Kennedy is expected to play in Florida's final three games.  He's got some catching up to do.

“I expected to see speed and energy from [Kennedy], a guy tenacious all over the ice,'' DeBoer said. “We saw a little of that. He's getting another chance. I think we'll see a different player.''

-- The Panthers took Sunday off but will return to their training facility in Coral Springs on Monday morning. The 10:30 a.m. session is expected to be Florida's final practice at Saveology IcePlex (3299 Sportsplex Drive, Coral Springs) this season. The workout is free and open to the public.


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lets see if I have this right, the Panthers don't realize that they have to have a player come up through re entry waivers and they end up short a player.

This is the same GM that failed to tender contracts to his players and cost his owner a ton of money as the players became free agents.

This is the same GM that is credited with building the blackhawks yet was demoted before the season they won the cup.

this is the same GM that is below average on draft picks making it to the NHL.

This is the same GM that overspent on free agents

This is the same GM that wasn't doing anything until Rick Dudley came along and helped him with scouting.

This is the same Rick Dudley who picked Bouwmeester and Horton for the Panthers.

This is the same GM who waived a young goal scorer after trading for him and then watching the young goal scorer be mentioned for rookie of the year.

This is the same GM who traded another young goal scorer for someone he drafted who has not lived up to expectations.

Got to love the Florida Blue Print, can't wait to see what they do to get to the salary cap floor.

can't dispute much of the above post. A lot of worrisome points but for his all faults with dates and proper NHL procedures Tallon did a lot (but not all) to put together a cup winner and he did have a rock solid looking draft last year so I am still hopeful.

Anyways, who out of the recent call-ups or acquired players do you guys like and think should be back next year?

So far I think Samsonov and Ryan Carter have played pretty well and I think Clay Wilson should get a look next year. I don't see why Callahan would always get the call up nod over Wilson. The Panthers brass and the beat writers seem to like Skille but so far I am not really seeing what they are but granted he has been playing with an injury and did look good against the Pens. Bergfors has been a disappointment. He looks soft and unassertive out there most of the time.

The key to much of the failure of this team was Rick Dudley's decision to take Bouwmeester over Rick Nash. So many times the Panthers just missed the playoffs because they couldn't score enough goals to win. Jay Bouwmeester has always been overrated. Rick Nash would have scored many more goals for this team much more than Bouwmeester prevented. Bouwmeester was the worst draft pick because we gave up a huge goal scorer. Nash didn't have the support on Columbus, but Nash with Jokinen, Booth, Weiss, Horton, Panthers would have made the playoffs and been a fun team to watch instead we got a soft discontented defenseman that did little for the team the entire time he was in South Florida. Ironically it is a similar situation in Calgary, Flames could have resigned Michael Cammalleri a proven goal scorer but Sutter spent the money on the soft defenseman Bouwmeester and now the Flames struggle to score and to make the playoffs. Rick Dudley hurt the franchise as much or more than Mike Keenan.

I am willing to give Tallon a chance but my patience is almost nonexistent. If he doesn't bring in some goal scoring help and I have to watch the scoring constipation another year he just may lose me.

I'm with you Puckbubba. I have been saying Bouwmeester was highly overrated for years and used to get ripped for it on these boards all time when he was still a Panther. History has proven me right. This team has got to start getting some players who can score. If they draft another defencemen this year with the top four pick they are going to have and then don't sign any free agent scoring I am done as Panther fan.

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