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Rookie D Erik Gudbranson Likely to Stay with #FlaPanthers ... Ryan Carter Claimed by DeBoer's #Devils

Guds (3)OTTAWA – Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said Wednesday that rookie defenseman Erik Gudbranson would likely stay with the team after his so-called nine game tryout.

Gudbranson, who is from the Ottawa area, will play in his ninth game Thursday against the Senators at ScotiaBank Place. 

If the Panthers were to send the 19-year-old back to his junior team in Kingston, Ontario, after Thursday's game, the team wouldn't lose the first year of Gudbranson's entry level contract. If he stays, he can become a free agent a year sooner.

The Panthers could still send him back to juniors after his 10th game played, but that rarely happens since the first year is burned up anyway.

Florida could, however, loan Gudbranson back to his junior team in December allowing him to participate in the two-week World Junior tournament for Team Canada. That decision will be made at a later date. 

“He's played well enough and it's a positive that he stays here,'' Tallon said while watching the Panthers work out on Wednesday morning. “We'll decide on Friday. But there's a good chance – we're leaning toward keeping him. What's best for his future, for him totally is what's important. Is it best for him to stay here? At this time, I would probably say it is. He's been fine. I think he has a presence out there. He hasn't been a negative for him. He's been a positive. It'll probably be better for him once we make this decision.''

As the Panthers packed up for the day, Gudbranson stayed behind at the Senators training complex to help his father Wayne run a youth practice. Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen and video coach P.J. DeLuca also worked with the Blackburn Wild after Florida's workout finished up. 

Erik Gudbranson thought it would be neat to work with the kids – his younger brother Dennis aplays for the Wild – while wearing his Panthers gear.

Knowing it's likely he's going to be sticking around with the big club made the day even sweeter. 

“The big thing is to keep playing and make plays,'' Gudbranson said. “I feel very comfortable here. This is good news. .-.-. That will be some stress off my shoulders, but I think I've been good at keeping that in the back of my mind. But even after Game 10, I can still be sent back. The biggest thing I've learned here is you have to play well to stay here. I'm excited to be here. This is where I want to be. This is my team.''

Said Dineen: “When you feel like you are here on a try-out, the intensity level is high every day. If and when Erik is a full-time NHLer, he'll be a good one for a long time. As a member of the organization, you're always looking at long term development .-.-. When you get here, we respect development, but he's going to have to continue to play at an extremely high level to stay in the six-man rotation.''

Gudbranson has played in all eight of the Panthers games so far, and although his statistics aren't overwhelming, he has been solid. Gudbranson has yet to point a point on the board and is a minus-4, but doesn't carry himself like your typical 19-year-old. Gudbranson stuck up for his teammate in fighting Steve Downie earlier in the season and has yet to back down from a challenge. 

“He works hard and you can see that he's getting his confidence. He looks like an NHL player,'' teammate Mike Weaver said. “He carries himself well. Even when he's been stuck in his zone, there's no panic on his face, he's in control of things. He's a rookie, yes, but he holds himself well. He fits in well. He sure isn't out of place. He just has to realize that in the NHL it's easy to make it sometimes, but it's real tough to stay.''

In 2010, Gudbranson apparently made the team out of training camp but the two sides couldn't come to a contract agreement and the Panthers sent him back to his junior team. The Panthers weren't all that keen on keeping Gudbranson last year knowing that the team likely wasn't going to fare too well and the environment may not be conducive to a young player trying to find his way. The Panthers don't think that's the case anymore.

“He has a good cast around him,'' Tallon said. “[Dineen] has handled him just right.''

Gudbranson was a little upset about going back in 2010, but now says he learned and experienced a lot. 

“I was able to work on my offensive skill and I had a physical year, that brought me along,'' he said. “Playing in juniors was huge. Those are all learning experiences. The extra year was good.''

-- The Panthers lost winger Ryan Carter when New Jersey made a waiver claim on Wednesday.

Carter joined the Panthers last February when Florida traded Cory Stillman to Carolina for him. Carter played in 12 games for the Panthers under current Devils coach Pete DeBoer, scoring two goals with and assist.

Carter was scoreless in seven games for Florida this season and was a healthy scratch Monday at Montreal.


When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; ScotiaBank Place, Ottawa

TV/Radio: FSN; WFTL-640

The series: Senators lead 39-26-3

The game: After a tough start, the Senators have won three straight. Ottawa led 2-0 at Carolina on Tuesday before the Hurricanes scored two quick ones late in the third, but former Panthers goalie Craig Anderson held Carolina there as Ottawa won 3-2 in a shootout. .-.-. Anderson is expected to be in net for the Sens. Florida hasn't announced a starting goalie, but rookie Jacob Markstrom has been outstanding, stopping 58 of his past 59 shots as he has led the Panthers to consecutive wins.