The Panthers introduced the immediate future of their franchise at a flashy press conference last Friday in Sunrise.
Starting Tuesday, players whom the Panthers hope will be their future stars will be on display in Coral Springs.
The Panthers will host a development camp starting Tuesday morning at the Saveology.com IcePlex. Florida's prospects have been ranked second-best in the NHL by hockeysfuture.com, with some of the team's top players in attendance.
Some players – such as collegiate players Rocco Grimaldi, Drew Shore and Nick Bjugstad – are expected to compete for roster spots in the coming years. Others, such as defenseman Erik Gudbranson and center Jonathan Huberdeau, could be on the team as early as October.
“There won't be much body contract, but there will be a lot of skating, shooting and passing,'' assistant general manager Mike Santos said. “We have a plan in place and part of that is to draft well. We have brought in 23 players in the past two drafts. Now we have to develop these young guys. We have 13 picks in the top three rounds of the past two drafts. That's two drafts worth of players in the top three rounds. We have as good a group of prospects as anyone. The excitement now turns into developing them.''
The prospects started arriving in South Florida on Saturday, with the team holding off-ice events on Sunday and Monday.
Starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, the Panthers will get a glimpse at what their players can do on the ice. The Panthers will hold three on-ice workouts throughout the week. All three sessions – Tuesday, Thursday and Friday – are free and open to the public. New head coach Kevin Dineen, goalie coach Robb Tallas and San Antonio Rampage coach Chuck Weber are among those who will be running the workouts.
This is a rare chance for local fans to see the Panthers top prospects in one place. In past years, the Panthers held such camps in Canada. Florida's new front office have made a commitment to hold more and more events locally, taking advantage of the new multi-million addition to their training facility.
Last year, the Panthers held a rookie camp with scrimmages against prospects from the Nashville organization. The Panthers will expand that this summer, with the Predators, Carolina Hurricanes and a yet to be determined team coming to Coral Springs for a rookie camp/tournament.
The Panthers will also hold their entire training camp in Coral Springs, leaving the state for just a single day to visit the Dallas Stars for an exhibition game.
Santos obviously likes showing off South Florida. When the players aren't on the ice, they will be checking out the sights. Santos has a workout on Fort Lauderdale beach trip planned as well as an airboat tour of the Everglades. When the Panthers report and spend training camp here, they can expect more of the same. Last year, Santos set up a team building trip at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Players will also meet with the team's sports psychologist, a financial advisor, a nutritionist and a chef.
“This week is planned to make them Panthers, to introduce them to the way we do things on and off the ice,'' Santos said. “Almost all of these kids are going to go their separate ways after this week, going back to college or to their junior team. They may not see each other until next summer. The relationships start now. When they become pros in a few years, they'll know each other and the way we do things.''
For players such as goalie Jacob Markstrom and winger Quinton Howden, this camp is a chance to get to know more people within the organization and check out what is expected to be their future home. They will be back for rookie camp and partake in training camp with the NHL players in September.
Others, such as Miami native Malcolm Lyles, are attending looking for future opportunities. Lyles is a defenseman who grew up in Miami Gardens and spent two seasons at Boston College. He's not looking for a contract with the Panthers – at least not right now.
Lyles has two more seasons of college to play at UMass-Lowell, but hopes to get noticed by those in attendance and improve his game as a result of the instruction and top-flight competition.
“All of the scouts will be there,'' said Lyles, who played in the British Columbia Hockey League last season. “I've been told time and time again this is a professional development camp. It will help me get some knowledge and develop me as a player. I enjoy playing at a high level. It's not every day you get to do this. I just want to become a better hockey player. It's a great opportunity to showcase myself, take another step in my hockey career.''
PANTHERS PROSPECT CAMP
Practices held at Saveology.com IcePlex in Coral Springs
Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 9 a.m.
Top players (last year's team, draft selection): D Erik Gudbranson (OHL Kingston, first round selection 2010); C Jonathan Huberdeau (QMJHL Saint John, first round 2011); G Jacob Markstrom (AHL Rochester, second round 2008); C Nick Bjugstad (University of Minnesota, first round 2010); LW Quinton Howden (WHL Moose Jaw, first round 2010); D Alex Petrovic (WHL Red Deer, second round 2010); C Rocco Grimaldi (US Developmental team, second round 2011); C Drew Shore (University of Denver, second round 2009).
RW Basaraba, Joe 6'2" 190 Right Fort Frances, ON Minnesota-Duluth
RW Birkholz, Josh 6'1" 182 Left Maple Grove, MN 3/28/1991 Everett
C Bjugstad, Nick 6'4'' 204 Right Blaine, MN 7/17/1992 Minnesota
D Boyd, R.J. 6'3'' 190 Left Fort Myers, FL 2/7/1991 Sacred Heart
C Brickley, Connor 6'1'' 195 Left Everett, MA 2/25/1992 Vermont
D Comrie, Adam 6'4" 205 Left Kanata, ON 7/31/1990 Rochester (AHL)
RW Donskoi, Joonas 5'11" 165 Right Raahe, Finland 4/13/1992 Karpat
LW Durocher, Corey 6'3" 175 Left Ottawa, ON 5/30/1992 Kingston
C Grimaldi, Rocco 5'6'' 160 Right Auburn Hills, MI 2/8/1993 U.S. National
D Gudbranson, Erik 6'4" 195 Right Ottawa, ON 1/7/1992 Kingston
RW Hazen, Jonathan 5'11" 170 Right Val-Belair, PQ 6/18/1990 Val d'Or
LW Howden, Quinton 6'2" 182 Left Oakbank, MB 1/21/1992 Moose Jaw
C Huberdeau, Jonathan 6'1'' 171 Left St-Jerome, PQ 6/4/1993 Saint John
C Hyman, Zach 6'0" 182 Right Toronto, ON 6/9/1992 Hamilton (OJHL)
LW Jenks, A.J. 6'2" 202 Left Detroit, MI 6/27/1990 Rochester (AHL)
C Knight, Corban 6'1'' 180 Right High River, AB 9/10/1990 North Dakota
D LaPoint, Derrick 6'2'' 175 Left Eau Claire, WI 5/13/1988 North Dakota
D Lee, John 6'1'' 180 Right Moorhead, MN 1/16/1989 Denver (WCHA)
RW Luciani, Anthony 5'8'' 190 Right Maple, ON 5/13/1990 Erie (OHL)
D *Lyles, Malcolm 5'10'' 180 Right Miami Gardens, FL 7/20/1990 Vernon
C McFarland, John 6'0" 192 Right Richmond Hill, ON 4/2/1992 Sudbury
C Pacan, David 6'3'' 205 Right Ottawa, ON 3/31/1991 Niagara (OHL)
D Petrovic, Alexander 6'4" 193 Right Edmonton, AB 3/3/1992 Red Deer
D Racine, Jonathan 6'1'' 182 Left Montreal, PQ 5/28/1993 Shawinigan
D Robak, Colby 6'3" 207 Left Dauphin, MB 4/24/1990 Rochester (AHL)
LW Selleck, Eric 6'2" 195 Left Shanley, ON 10/20/1987 Rochester
RW Shaw, Logan 6'3'' 190 Right Glace Bay, NS 10/5/1992 Cape Breton
C Shore, Drew 6'3'' 190 Right Denver, CO 1/29/1991 Denver (WCHA)
C Timmins, Scott 5'11" 191 Left Hamilton, ON 9/11/1989 Rochester
C Trocheck, Vincent 5'11'' 180 Right Pittsburgh, PA 7/11/1993 Saginaw
LW Wilson, Garrett 6'3" 206 Left Elmvale, ONT 3/16/1991 Owen
G Cheverie, Marc 6'3" 183 Left Cole Harbour, NS 2/22/1987 Cin/Roch
G Foster, Brian 6'1" 175 Left Pembroke, NH 2/4/1987 Shreveport
G Gayduchenko, Sergei 6'5'' 222 Left Yaroslavl, Russia 6/6/1989 Moskow
G Markstrom, Jacob 6'3" 178 Left Gavle, Sweden 1/31/1990 Rochester
*-Indicates player is in training camp on a tryout