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VINCENT TROCHECK: Confidence Isn't a Problem

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

There is little doubt Vincent Trocheck plays with extreme confidence.

After all, the 20-year-old rookie did something pretty special last year as he was the Ontario junior Hockey League's top player after leading the league in scoring by putting up 50 goals.

Will Trocheck's conviction in his own ability be enough to earn him a spot on the Panthers' roster in a few weeks?

No, but if he shows even a touch of the scoring prowess he did while in junior, a Florida team starving for goals may give Trocheck a serious look.

"We told them there is equal opportunity here,'' general manager Dale Tallon said before Florida's prospect camp opened on Thursday morning.

"We don't care about their age. I want them to feel like they have a fair opportunity to make our team, to make the big club. That starts now.''

Trocheck and the rest of the Panthers gathered in Coral Springs received the message sent from Tallon, yet it's too early to determine whether any of them will do anything about it.

Florida's main training camp hits the ice on Thursday.

"Vinny is a player, a hockey player who is a highly competitive guy,'' said Scott Luce, the Panthers' director of amateur scouting.

"He leads by example and doesn't take no for an answer when it comes to his production. He feels he can produce at any level. His drive combined with his high skill level bodes well for his future.''

The Panthers, despite publicly announcing the roster will trend younger this season, still have a number of locks and only a handful of openings.

Trocheck, a third-round pick in 2011, wants one of them.

Working throughout the offseason in his native Pittsburgh with other NHL players helped the 5-foot-11 forward put on some muscle and improved his core strength.

Whether that's enough to help him be on the ice when the Panthers open the season in Dallas -- or play in their home opener on Oct. 11 against his hometown Penguins -- remains to be seen.

"I'm coming here to make the team but I know it's going to be a battle. There are a lot of talented players here,'' Trocheck said. "It's going to be good competition and it's going to be fun.''

Peter Horachek is the coach of Florida's minor league affiliate in San Antonio and would likely benefit from having Trocheck in the American Hockey League this season.

The Panthers have been reticent to rush young players under Tallon and it's very likely Trocheck could start the season in Texas. Trocheck, however, should not be thinking that way.

"He lead the [OHL] in scoring, led the playoffs in scoring and is a very skilled guy,'' said Horachek, who spent the past decade as an assistant in Nashville.

"He's a very confident young man who wants to win. I think that will help him. He believes in his abilities, believes he can play in the NHL. That's what young guys need. It's a big step and a process. Whatever the timeframe is, he's going to play in the NHL.''

BONUS TROCHECK

-- On scoring 50 goals for the Plymouth Whalers last year:

"It was an honor to be able to say I scored 50 goals. I wasn't really focused on it during the year, but it was a bonus. I had a lot of guys around me to help. I have the puck and I'll definitely hold on to the 50th puck for a while.''

-- On the opportunity in Florida:

"They've had meetings with us and they've told us to come here and expect to make this team. What's a guy like me to do? I'm going to work as hard as I can to make it. If you do, great. If you don't, keep working until you do.''

-- The confidence in scoring:

"Being able to put up those kind of numbers, seeing my goals increase each year, definitely helps with my confidence. I know I can put up points. It's going to be more difficult at this level.''

PHOTO BY KELSEY HINDS/Special to On Frozen Pond

VINCENT TROCHECK: Confidence Isn't a Problem

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