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Big City (sort of) Debut

Matthias NEWARK - It appears the future is here.

Shawn Matthias, perhaps Florida's most talented youngster, makes his NHL debut tonight in the shadow of New York City. Sure, we're in Jersey, but you can see the big city from here.

Matthias seems pretty jacked about being called up, and why shouldn't he? He's been playing great lately, from his junior games in Belleville to Team Canada's Gold Medal performance in World Juniors.

Quite a whirlwind for him.

JM says he brought Matthias up mainly to see what he can do under the bright lights. That, and the Panthers really have no one else. The team is so banged up it has to recall a 19-year-old from juniors. But hey, good for the kid.

Here's the deal: Matthias can play 10 games at the NHL level before his NHL contract kicks in. The Panthers can send him back after 10-plus games, but he would burn a full year of his Panthers' contract which means they'd have to sign him again one year sooner.

Anyway, we'll worry about that one when the time comes.

JM says he is looking short term with Matthias right now, so don't expect him to be around long. Unless he plays his way onto the roster. The Panthers have high hopes for him, and are very excited about his future.

"I flew in the morning and I'm pretty excited,'' Mathias said. "It came out of nowhere. I'm looking forward to tonight, getting that first game out of the way.''

Said JM: "He had a real good world junior tournament, was playing well in junior. As you know, we already have quite a few of our players up from Rochester. This is a new face, a kid with some talent. We'll see if he can come in and help us. We'll see how he does this weekend then re-evaluate.''