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YOUNG GUNS: Florida Panthers Getting Younger and Younger ... Eric Selleck Suspended Two Games for Instigating Fight ... Trocheck OHL's Top Scorer

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

RALEIGH, N.C. -- When the Panthers finally opened this season back on Jan. 19, Jonathan Huberdeau made his much-anticipated NHL debut.

Huberdeau, the third-overall pick of the 2011 NHL draft, was thought to be one of the few young players the Panthers would have to depend on.

Yet because of a truckload of injuries, the Panthers have become less of a veteran team and more a junior varsity squad.

On Tuesday night, Eric Selleck became the sixth player to make his NHL debut with the Panthers this season. Selleck also became the 13th member of the Panthers who appeared in the minor leagues this year. Selleck was ejected from Tuesday's 4-1 win over Carolina for instigating a fight.

Florida and Tampa Bay lead the league with most players to make their debut this season.

"To get a guy to come up and play in their first NHL game, something that's happened a few times the past few weeks, is always exciting,'' coach Kevin Dineen said.

"One thing you usually get is a short-term jump from a guy who is in their for the first time. They usually have a lot of enthusiasm.''

Huberdeau remembers his first night with the Panthers fondly -- as well he should. Huberdeau came up with high expectations and was thought to be a Panthers regular from the start.

A goal with two assists in his debut only cemented his standing with the team and he's appeared in all 30 games this season. Huberdeau, 19, leads the Panthers with 12 goals.

"It was great to have my first game be the first game of the season. It was really exciting,'' Huberdeau said.

"I got a chance to make my debut at home and it went pretty well. I was happy with it and I was pretty nervous before it started. Now we have a lot of young players who need to step up. There have been so many injuries, but I think we've handled it well. But I didn't expect to play 18 minutes a night."

Others, obviously, aren't in the same boat and had to work a little harder to get the attention of the coaching staff to earn their keep.

Drew Shore, whom Dineen joked came to Florida with a suit and a pair of jeans, could have been one of many who have rotated between the Panthers and their minor league affiliate over the past two years.

Shore, a second round selection in 2009, played so well the Panthers had little choice but to keep him in the lineup.

"You really get to soak it in after that first game,'' Shore said. "You sit back and go 'I just played in the NHL.' Every kid works toward that so it's a pretty special moment. But after a few games, your goal shifts goes from just playing an NHL game to becoming an NHL player. You need to contribute.''

Colby Robak, a second round pick in 2008, played in three games last season but is making his mark this year by taking advantage of Florida's banged up blue line.

Robak, who turns 23 on Sunday, has played in 11 games since being called up late last month.

"You can't explain what it's like to make your NHL debut because it's something you've dreamt about since you were a little kid,'' Robak said. "The butterflies are out of control. It's strange because while this is still a game, one you've been playing since you were a kid, it's also your job. You have to stay on your toes.''

-- Selleck, who appeared to be woozy after taking a punch from Carolina's Kevin Westgarth flush in the face, was given a game misconduct and an automatic one-game suspension for instigating a fight in the final five minutes of a game.

On Wednesday, the league announced Selleck would be suspended an additional game for leaving the bench during a line change to fight Westgarth -- who had tried to fight Tyson Strachan late in Tuesday's game. Strachan declined said request.

Selleck would be eligible to return to the lineup Sunday against the Islanders.

-- The Panthers continue to be excited about prospect Vincent Trocheck -- especially after the season he had in the Canadian junior leagues.

Trocheck, a third round pick in 2011, won the Ontario Hockey League scoring title by bagging 50 goals with 59 assists in 63 games for the Michigan-based OHL teams in Saginaw and Plymouth.

The Pittsburgh native, who said at the draft he was a fan of the Panthers growing up, could compete for a spot on the team in training camp come September.

THURSDAY: PANTHERS AT RANGERS
When, where: 7 p.m.; Madison Square Garden, New York
TV/Radio: FSN; WQAM-560
The series: Rangers lead 41-30-6
The game: Florida snapped a six-game losing streak by beating Carolina Tuesday to kick off a season-long five-game road trip. The Rangers have won two straight. New York won three of the four games between the two last season.

Comments

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It's the OHL, who cares? lets see him put up 50 points in his rookie year then we'll talk.

Still, you you have to be exited about the possibility. Granted, I am not familiar with the quality of OHL but i would think 109 points in 63 games with 50 goals is something to be excited about...

Pretty good sign he lead the OHL in points...another of the talented Forward's coming, which is why we need that #1 pick to nab Seth Jones.

...Litespeed - in response to your insightful post last night; I share your concern about Markstrom. However, I feel we should not sell Markstrom short just yet.
This year he will get invaluable experience and if everything goes as planned and we get off to a good start next year I am confident he will rise to the occasion. He is still young and to ask him to take a loosing team on his back at that age is not fair. He needs a better team to grow confidence.

In regards to Weiss I totally agree, they should honor his dedication to this organization by letting him play here his whole career as I am sure he would like.

I remember several years ago Panthers had the number one pick and dropped down bypassing Rick Nash to take Boumeester. One can only dream how a Weiss, Horton, Nash line would have done but one thing we know is Boumeester never got the Panthers into the playoffs. They also did a "similar" move to take Horton instead of Eric Staal, so a Panthers team with Weiss, Staal and Nash could have been a reality. Who Dale Tallon takes really does determine what kind of hockey we get to watch. Draft day is the most important day of all.

Yea, it's a good year to suck! Like I said, I'd be happy with Jones, McKinnon, or Droiun (in the order). Barkov may have a shot at the #3 spot, and the Russian torn up the last amatuer tourney. Pretty sure a non playoff team can only lose 1 spot in the Draft Order correct???

So if we finish with the worst record overall, we'd be assured the #2 pick at worst. Is that how you guys have read the draft articles???

Do you think we end up trade a guy like Matthias??? He's a RFA at the end of the year, and might bring us a 2nd round pick the way he's been playing. I've seen he's "tired of losing", so he may go somewhere else anyways...

I hope they don't trade Kopecky thou. At $3 mil 2 years, i think he's a pretty good value actually. Dude's a grinder, gives a good effort every night.

Tallon Rulz I believe we would be at worst number 2 but even number three is very good so really not overly concerned. We probably need Jones but something in wants a forward. Tough choice this year...I would doubt they trade Matthias or Kopecky both have been two of the best players, both keepers, I would not like to see either go...The only guy I want gone is overpaid and underachiever Upshall...

should be " but something in me wants a forward"

Tallon has NO intention of trading Kopecky and I am 100% sure of that!Trading Matthias would be a huge mistake and that wont be done till next year if they dont tender him a walmart contract.Not re signing Weiss would be another disaster

There is a lot of teams in the hunt this year so we could get some real good return IF tallon decides to move someone... It could become a bidding fiesta.
He is good at this so it should be interesting to see what he does.

Tallon would be stupid to trade away two of his best forwards. i agree not resigning Weiss would be diaster for this team.

I agree, if we could get a bag of pucks and skate sharpening fluid for Upshall, I'd be happy. Dude just never got it going here. Puckbubba...I'd like a forward too, but I think Seth Jones would be the guy just because I feel like Drioun is closing the gap on McKinnon, some mocks have him #2 and McKinnon #3. I think Jones contributes next year here.

Hey, we gotta look forward to something right!!!

I hope the bring back Mueller as well, Minnesota's finest (from MN, went to U of MN. I've been impressed with Brennan as well.

Next up...lines for next year?!?!?!?

I'll go...

Flash / Shore / Steeger
Hubes / Bjugsted / Mueller
Kopecky / Matthias / Bergenheim
Parros / Goc / Skille

GONE: Weiss (like Garrison, decides to play elsewhere) & Upshall (for a 3rd in 2013 Draft, or we buy him out)

Campbell / Guds
Jovo / SETH JONES
Kuli / Kuba

Weaver/Robek rotating in

Markstrom / maybe somebody other than Clemmer...

That's how I see it...

Crap, Brennan's in the D mix somewhere, we'll resign him...maybe we buy out both Upshall AND Kuba???

I wouldn't be surprised Brennan replaces Kulikov and they trade Kulikov for a first round pick and a prospect.... I like Mueller should keep him...

replace kuba with petrovic...

There's no way in hell Jovo comes back next year.

Your pairings are a pipedream at best. To think a rookie (if they do indeed take Seth Jones) pairs up over Weaver (who is insane on the PK), Kulikov or Strachan. Nope.

Those 3 (Strach, Kulikov, Weaver) have the 3 best +/- for the top 8 people in ice time on the Panthers.

Some combination of Weaver, Kulikov, Campbell and Gudbranson will make up the top 2.

The third pairing is up in the air depending on what they do with their RFAs (Caruso, Robak, Brennan) and Strachan (UFA).

I'm not going to speculate on forwards because there are a lot of FAs in play. Weiss, Mueller, Santorelli, Matthias, Smithson, Selleck. The one thing we know for sure is Bjugstad will be up, and Bergenheim will be back. Other than that, who knows.

Uptowner,

i believe Strachan will probably get a better deal come summer from another team. i also have this odd feeling that Kulikov will traded come summer as well (not Tallon's guy) for offensive help. i also heard from that Bergenheim will bought out..he's pissed off alot of people within the organization including Dineen.

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