« August 2015 | Main | October 2015 »

9 posts from September 2015

September 30, 2015

COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: Panthers made four moves; cut David Booth, send three to AHL Portland ... Quotes from Booth, Dale Tallon, Mike Matheson and Shane Harper

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
Minutes after coach Gerard Gallant said he wanted to play his starting lineup in Saturday's final exhibition game of the preseason, word starting getting around that cuts were coming.
The biggest casualty Wednesday: David Booth, who was released from his training camp tryout.
Booth was informed of the decision by general manager Dale Tallon following Wednesday's practice.
By the time Booth was caught leaving the Panthers' facility by a reporter, he had yet to inform wife Ashley.
"We'll see what happens,'' said an obviously dejected Booth. "I don't know what the next step will be. I want to keep playing hockey but I believe I'm better than [playing in the AHL]. It's just a matter of getting my timing down, getting everything back.
"It's just one of those things. You don't know what's going to happen."
Booth, 30, spent parts of six seasons with the Panthers before Tallon traded him to Vancouver six games into the 2011-12 season.
Although Booth has had injury problems in the past, he played solid minutes for Toronto last season and said he felt as good as he has in years.
"It's always tough coming into camp and trying to play your best in the first three games,'' Booth said.
"It's unfortunate. I feel I'm still a great player. This place felt comfortable and like a place I could do some of the things I've done before. But this is a business and sometimes you're just a number. They have to make the decisions they feel are best for the team."
Said Tallon: "It was very tough because he played very hard. We have young guys ... It was hard to fit [Booth] into the slot. It was a difficult decision and I wish him all the best."
The Panthers also sent prospects Shane Harper, Mike Matheson and MacKenzie Weegar to their AHL affiliate in Portland, Maine.
The moves put Florida's roster at 27, although it sounds like forward Rocco Grimaldi will start the season on the injured list as Tallon told reporters the roster "is at 26."
With the moves, veteran Martin Havlat -- also in camp on a tryout -- remains in the running for a roster spot as do Quinton Howden, Connor Brickley, Garrett Wilson and 18-year-old Lawson Crouse.
"We have lots of players,'' Tallon said. "The positive thing is, all these guys are going to get into games. That's been the focus, getting good pros in our system. It takes an army to get to the promised land here. It takes more than 23 guys. It takes 30-35 guys."
Defenseman Dylan Olsen also remains in camp although he's expected to be sent to Portland after not playing in any of Florida's first five preseason games because of conditioning issues.
The Panthers need to have their roster at 23 by 5 p.m. on Monday.
Gallant said, barring injury, his lineup Saturday against visiting Tampa Bay would likely be his lineup for the season opener Oct. 10 against Philadelphia.
"We have a lot of guys battling for a few spots and it's healthy competition,'' Gallant said. "Saturday's game is pretty much going to be our team unless guys are banged up or something. As much as possible, I'm going to play everyone to get ready for the season.''
-- Matheson, considered Florida's top prospect the past few seasons, said he was disappointed to be sent to Portland but added he would work hard in trying to return to the Panthers.
"I knew coming in that it would be a long shot to make this team out of training camp just with the numbers and the caliber of the players they already had here,'' said Matheson, who played in a handful of AHL games last spring after leaving Boston College.
"You can't go down there and sulk and think the whole world is against you. If you do, you'll be stuck there. If you take it as motivation and work even harder, I think the odds of me coming back are greater."


"It's always tough coming into camp and trying to play your best in the first three games. I remember the years when I scored 20, 30 goals and having meeting with the coaches asking me 'where are you at right now? You're not playing well.' And this is better than I've felt in those years.
Sometimes you have a contract and they have to play you and things work out as time progresses. It's unfortunate. I feel I'm still a great player. This place felt comfortable and like a place I could do some of the things I've done before. But this is a business and sometimes you're just a number. They have to make the decisions they feel are best for the team."
"Back in the day, it seemed like the older guys were pushing the younger guys back. Now things are reversed. The older guys are getting phased out.
"We'll see what happens. I don't know what the next step will be. I want to keep playing hockey but I believe I'm better than [playing in the AHL]. It's just a matter of getting my timing down, getting everything back.
"It's just one of those things. You don't know what's going to happen."
On sending Shane Harper to AHL Portland
"It was real positive. We were very impressed with him, he played really well. Our depth is really solid. He can come up and play some valuable games for us, that's what he showed us in training camp. We have lots of players. The positive thing is, all these guys are going to get into games. That's been the focus, getting good pros in our system. It takes an army to get to the promised land here. It takes more than 23 guys. It takes 30-35 guys."
On sending Mike Matheson/MacKenzie Weegar to AHL Portland
"This was also positive. They were both very good in camp, they just have to get some game experience and learn their craft, learn their position. They have all the tools physically; they both have good skating ability, good puck movement, good hockey senses. They just have to learn the hard part and that's the defensive play at this pace."
On cutting David Booth
"It was very tough because he played very hard. We have young guys; Brickley has had a great camp, so has Howden and Wilson. Then there's Crouse. It was hard to fit [Booth] into the slot. It was a difficult decision and I wish him all the best."
"I was happy with how camp was going and I just found out that I'm going to Portland and that was to be expected.
"I knew coming in that it would be a long shot to make this team out of training camp just with the numbers and the caliber of the players they already had here.
"Obviously I would like to stay, try to change their mind but at the same time, I'm happy with what I did. I showed I can play in the league and I'm almost there with my game. Right now I'll go to Portland and try and perform well for the Pirates.
"You can't go down there and sulk and think the whole world is against you. If you do, you'll be stuck there. If you take it as motivation and work even harder, I think the odds of me coming back are greater."
"I think I've been a bit of a late bloomer; every year I've had progression.
"I feel the best I've ever felt as a hockey player.
"There were some teams interested in me but I felt Florida showed the most interest. I talked to Dale a couple of times and he really sounded honest, more so than other guys. He was more genuine. I think you have to feel comfortable and this was an easy to decision to make. Once I got here, I was happy I did. I've been given a chance, and that's more than I can say for some other places I've been. There are a lot of guys who have been sent down. I'm really happy for that chance. If I do get sent down, I'm going to work my butt off and build on what I did last year.


September 21, 2015

VETERAN BATTLE: David Booth, Martin Havlat fight for spot on Florida Panthers this season ... Panthers split preseason opener in Nashville, play host to Dallas in Game 3 on Tuesday

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
The Panthers enter the second week of training camp with what is realistically three forward spots up for grabs.
Florida would like to see some of its young players rise up and take them -- players such as Rocco Grimaldi, Quinton Howden and Lawson Crouse -- although there are a couple veterans fighting for them.
David Booth and Martin Havlat, who have almost 1,300 NHL games between them, want to stick around and play for the Panthers this season.
"We have our eyes on everyone,'' general manager Dale Tallon said as camp opened last week.
"There aren't many openings so you better be at your best every day. Competition is getting deeper and deeper and we have depth at every position. I'm not going to give a guy a job just because we drafted them. They have to earn the spot. Inner competition will make our team better.''
Both Booth and Havlat already have their living arrangements set.
Booth, who spent parts of six seasons with the Panthers, never sold his Parkland home after being traded from Florida to Vancouver in 2011 and is in the process of moving back into the place he has been renting out.
Havlat closed on a home in Boca Raton in June before officially getting a training camp tryout from Tallon earlier this month.
For Booth, returning to the Panthers has been a bit of a homecoming despite all of the changes.
Only a handful of players remain from Booth's final Florida team as he was traded six games into the 2011-12 season.
"It feels like I was just here last year,'' Booth said. "Walking in here just feels awesome. I feel like I'm at home. There are nothing but good memories here. When I got off the plane, all I could do is smile. I'm really excited.''
Havlat, 34, spent last season in New Jersey, partly as a teammate of Jaromir Jagr.
Injuries have slowed both Havlat and Booth over the past few years but both say they are healthy as they fight for a spot on the team.
While Booth was healthy last year and played in 59 games for Toronto, Havlat was limited to just 40 games with the Devils and hasn't played more than 50 games in a season since playing in 78 for Minnesota in 2010-11.
"The last few years were tough because of injuries, but that's part of the game,'' said Havlat, who did play 39 games in the 48-game lockout season in 2013.
"I'm heathy right now, feeling great and ready to start again.''
Florida plays its third preseason game Tuesday at BB&T Center against Dallas and coach Gerard Gallant continues to look for his best mix of players.
Veterans and rookies will be judged, he said, on what they do on the ice during camp and in the final four preseason games.
"Opening night we're going to have our best players, our best team out there,'' Gallant said.
"Hopefully we have that for all 82 games, that's the goal. You can't give guys tryouts when the season starts, we're going to have our best team out there.''
-- Florida split its preseason doubleheader at Nashville on Sunday.
The Predators won the opener 5-2 with the Panthers rallying to win the nightcap 3-2 thanks to a 3-on-3 overtime goal from rookie defenseman Michael Matheson.
"There were a lot of mistakes in the first game obviously but we had two rosters out there and I thought we competed hard,'' Gallant said Monday.
"There was some good, some bad. The first game is out of the way. The big thing is no one got hurt.''
Gallant said Roberto Luongo would start Tuesday's game against the Stars and get at least two periods of work.
Veteran Mike McKenna, expected to start the season at AHL Portland, should play the third.
-- Florida made its first moves of the preseason Monday, sending eight players either back to their Canadian junior teams or to Portland's training camp which opens this weekend.
The Panthers' roster is now at 43.
When, where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise
TV/Radio: None




September 19, 2015

BACK TO WORK: Injury behind him, Nick Bjugstad ready to continue moving forward ... Florida Panthers open preseason slate Sunday in Nashville

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
Few players were ready to get training camp going and get back to a normal hockey routine than Nick Bjugstad.
A herniated disk cut Bjugstad's season short last year as he underwent surgery in March to relieve pain so severe general manager Dale Tallon said even tying his shoes was an ordeal.
Still, Bjugstad tried to play through the pain. For about 10 games, Bjugstad fought through.
Until he couldn't go anymore.
"The kid is a gamer,'' coach Gerard Gallant said.
Bjugstad, 23, was having a career season before the back injury came to light.
Centering Florida's second forward line, Bjugstad was leading the team in scoring with 24 goals and 19 assists, becoming a breakout player for the Panthers in his second full NHL season.
"It was a tough way to end it,'' he said. "Obviously I had to watch the end of it on television or in the stands. It was a fun season to be a part of, night and day from the year before. But I had never been injured before. I think you learn to appreciate the game a little more. Sitting out for a long time is no fun. You start losing your mind. I was getting bored."
On Dec. 30, not long after he scored against Montreal, the Panthers showed Bjugstad how much he meant to the organization when they signed him to a six-year contract extension.
"I'm so happy they want me around that long,'' Bjugstad said. "It's an honor."
Bjugstad, who had his back surgery at the Mayo Clinic in his hometown of Minneapolis, says he is ready to build on the success he had last year.
"This was a different summer for me, but it was good, I put on some weight and put on some muscle,'' said Bjugstad, who also got more flexible by working a Pilates program this offseason.
"I'm rested and in a good mental spot to be ready to go this season.''
The Panthers know how important Bjugstad is to their success, with Tallon saying he thought Florida would have been a playoff team last year had Bjugstad not been hurt.
Not only did the Panthers miss having Bjugstad in their lineup down the stretch, but the games he played while injured affected his game as well.
Bjugstad played as hard as he could, but the back pain affected him as he had no goals and two assists in his final six games before surgery.
"I appreciate Dale saying that, but who knows what would have happened,'' Bjugstad said.
Added Gallant: "Nick was playing outstanding and to lose him down the stretch was big for our team. I definitely hurt us a lot. But he's 100 percent now and looks really good. We'll move on from that.''
On Sunday, Bjugstad will be in his first game situation since being pulled by Gallant on March 21 against Boston when the Panthers visit Nashville for their exhibition opener.
Bjugstad said he is ready to get closer to when the games count.
"You have to treat it as a normal game,'' he said. "You have to be ready mentally. I haven't missed this much time and it was a long offseason. I'm ready to get the pace back.''
-- The Panthers will play their now traditional preseason doubleheader against the Predators in Nashville on Sunday.
This will be the fourth straight season the two teams have opened the preseason with a pair of games in the same day.
Rocco Grimaldi knows a little bit about playing doubleheaders as Florida's rookie forward played in two games in the same day last year.
Grimaldi played a morning game with Florida's AHL team in San Antonio on Nov. 19then was summoned to join the big club in Los Angeles to play against the Kings later that night.
Grimaldi won't play in both games Sunday, but says if asked, he would.
"Might as well, it's not like I haven't done it before,'' said Grimaldi, one of a handful of players fighting for one of the open roster spots.
Gallant said the Panthers are taking 42 of the 51 players on the roster to Nashville for the two games.
Goalie Roberto Luongo will not play Sunday but is expected to start Tuesday against Dallas at BB&T Center.
"We had two good days here and now we're going to go and play some games,'' Gallant said. "98 percent of the guys are going to be able to play.''

Sunday: Preseason doubleheader at Nashville, 4:30 p.m.
Monday: Practice at Coral Springs IceDen, noon
Tuesday: Preseason game vs. Dallas, BB&T Center, 7:30 p.m.

Photo by WALT MICHOT/Miami Herald Staff


September 18, 2015

BACK FOR MORE: Panthers open training camp with Jonathan Huberdeau on the ice, playoffs only goal

TWITTER: GeorgeRichards
The Panthers didn't make many offseason moves so Friday's opening of training camp didn't include a whole lot of introductions.
Florida's coaching staff, new a year ago, returns minus Mark Morris who left to coach Carolina's AHL affiliate in Charlotte.
A handful of veteran players departed, replaced by the likes of Reilly Smith, David Booth and Martin Havlat.
Florida's goalie tandem of Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya also return from last season.
"We're a confident team coming into camp,'' second-year coach Gerard Gallant said.
"We came into camp last year and had new coaches and a lot of new players. The year went pretty good for us, we were pretty happy but the guys are saying it's not about having a good team but getting into the playoffs. The guys believe we can beat any team in the league if we play well. We're confident right now.''
Last year, the Panthers bounced back from being a last place team in 2013-14 to one being in the playoff hunt until the final weeks, not eliminated until there were just a handful of games left.
So the biggest difference for the Panthers as camp opened in Coral Springs this year is the expectations.
Last year, improvement was hoped for.
This year, only making the playoffs will do.
"We have a lot of young players who took big steps last year,'' Luongo said. "The next step for them will be this year. We thought we could have made it last year so we didn't feel like we needed to [change] much. There was really nowhere to add when you look at our roster.
"The culture that was here for so many years, we changed that last year. The expectation here is to win every night. We're holding everyone accountable. We're not letting anything slide.''
The Panthers finished with 91 points last year, a league-best 25-point improvement.
Those 91 points, however, weren't good enough as Florida missed the playoffs for the 15th time in the past 17 seasons.
The Panthers have been to the playoffs twice (2000, 2012) since 1997.
General manager Dale Tallon said being close won't cut it this year.
"They understand that last year we got to game 79 and this year we need to get to game 82 and have it be a [meaningful] game and we make the playoffs,'' Tallon said.
The Panthers opened camp with 51 players as the near-holdout of winger Jonathan Huberdeau never transpired.

Huberdeau agreed to a two-year contract with the Panthers early Thursday morning, flew back to South Florida from Montreal and reported to camp.
On Friday, Huberdeau was in the third and final group of players to take the ice. After a brief workout, Huberdeau returned to a locker stall that just a few days prior had been used by a player trying out for Florida's AHL team.
Every thing looked back to normal as Huberdeau was back in his familiar No. 11, his nameplate affixed to his stall.
"It was important for me to be in camp, not miss anything,'' said Huberdeau, who led the Panthers with 54 points last season.
"I'm glad the business side is over and now it's time to think about hockey. The deal is done, now we're thinking about hockey and everyone is ready to play.''
-- The Panthers will follow a similar schedule on the second day of camp with the team split into three groups with two groups scrimmaging at the Coral Springs IceDen.
Florida will fly to Nashville following Saturday's workout and open its exhibition season with a doubleheader against the Predators on Sunday.
The trip to Tennessee will be quick as the Panthers will be back in Coral Springs on Monday and play host to Dallas at BB&T Center Tuesday night.
Saturday (9:45 a.m. with scrimmage at 10:45 a.m.); Monday (noon)
Where: Florida Panthers IceDen; 3299 Sportsplex Drive, Coral Springs
Admission: Free
Preseason opener: Sunday at Nashville Predators (doubleheader), 4:30 p.m.

Photos courtesy of Kelsey Hinds/ @KHindsPhoto


September 17, 2015

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED: Jonathan Huberdeau agrees to two-year deal, back in Florida ... Plenty of players battling for a few spots as training camp opens

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
The Panthers will hold their first practice of the season Friday morning and their leading scorer from last year will be there.
Jonathan Huberdeau agreed to a two-year contract with the team early Thursday morning ensuring he'll be part of training camp.
Huberdeau, 22, will be paid $2.5 million this season and $4 million in 2016-17 giving him a cap hit of $3.25 million.
"I think it's fantastic,'' general manager Dale Tallon said. "I'm real happy for Huberdeau and happy for our team. I think it's good to have everything settled, have a whole unit. Sometimes things take longer than others but I was confident we would get it done.''
The bridge deal allows the two sides to potentially work on a long-term deal down the road as Florida continues to control Huberdeau's status for the next four seasons.
Huberdeau will continue to be a restricted free agent when this current contract expires following the 2016-17 season.
If Huberdeau's numbers continue to rise, his next contract will likely be a big one.
"It's incentive and there's still room for improvement,'' Tallon said. "I like to have guys hungry. It's a good bridge contract, very fair.''
Huberdeau is obviously an important part of the Panthers' youth movement as he had a career-best 15 goals, 39 assists and a plus-10 rating last season.
The third-overall pick of the 2011 draft, Huberdeau made his NHL debut following the 2012-13 lockout and won Florida's first Calder Trophy which honors the league's top rookie that season.
Defenseman Aaron Ekblad became Florida's second such winner last season.
"I think there's a lot of talent on this team, from what I saw last year and what I've seen here the past few days,'' said Martin Havlat, who trained with Huberdeau during the offseason and is represented by the same agent.
"[Huberdeau] is going to get better and better."
The Panthers went through medical and fitness testing at the BB&T Center as training camp officially opened Thursday.
Huberdeau agreed to his deal early in the day and flew to South Florida from his native Montreal and did his testing in the afternoon.
On Friday, Huberdeau is expected to be back on Florida's top line with Jaromir Jagr and Sasha Barkov.
Last year, that trio was one of the highest-producing lines in the league when together for the final 20 games of the season after Florida acquired Jagr in a deal with New Jersey.
On Thursday, Jagr said he was happy to see his linemate agreed to terms and that the Panthers would be whole on the opening day of camp.
Jagr scored six goals with 18 points in 20 games with the Panthers last season. Barkov had seven goals and 15 points during that span and Huberdeau had six goals and 21 points.
"They have all the tools,'' Jagr said Thursday. "I can help them with the experience, tell them how to take advantage. If you don't tell them, maybe they find out, but it won't be for five, six years down the road.''
The Panthers will have 51 players in camp and will carry 23 on the opening night roster.
Although Tallon told his players all jobs were up for grabs in training camp, realistically, there are just a handful.
"There are a couple of spots open,'' coach Gerard Gallant said, "and there are six, seven, eight guys fighting for them. It's going to be interesting.''
Florida is expected to replace veterans Tomas Kopecky and Scottie Upshall's spots with youngsters, although free agents David Booth and Havlat being in camp on tryouts will make the competition interesting.
Booth, who spent part of six seasons with the Panthers before traded to Vancouver in 2011, still has a home in northwest Broward and plans on living there this season.
Some of Florida's talented young players -- such as Rocco Grimaldi, Connor Brickley and Lawson Crouse -- as well as Havlat may have a say in whether that transpires.

"When Florida offered me, I just thought it was a great opportunity,'' said Booth, who will wear the No. 10 he wore with the Panthers from 2006-11.
"You want to come in, earn a spot. ... Nothing is given. You have to earn everything. Being on a tryout here, that really rings true.''
Said Tallon: "We have a lot of guys and a few jobs. Do the math. We want the best players. It's really starting to come together. There's no excuse now. It's time to take it to the next level.''

Friday/Saturday; 9:45 a.m. (scrimmage 10:45 a.m.)
Where: Florida Panthers IceDen; 3299 Sportsplex Drive, Coral Springs
Admission: Free
Preseason opener: Sunday at Nashville Predators (doubleheader), 4:30 p.m.


September 16, 2015

TAKE OFF, EH: Florida Panthers team up with Eastern Airlines for own plane

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
Eastern Airlines long has been known for a paint scheme on its planes in which the two-toned blue stripes resembles a hockey stick.
The newest jet in the reincarnation of the Eastern fleet will now ferry not only actual hockey sticks but hockey players across North America.
When the Panthers take off for Nashville to play their preseason opener Saturday afternoon, they will do so in a customized 737-700 jet.
The Eastern plane is emblazoned not only with its familiar logo and striping but the Panthers' leaping cat logo on the tail fin as well as on the fuselage.
More importantly to the Panthers, the plane is equipped with 64 business class seats, work tables and a training room enabling players to get their bumps and bruises looked after while in flight.
"It's a beautiful plane I know our players are going to enjoy,'' general manager Dale Tallon said Thursday.
"It's going to save on wear and tear on their bodies and we'll be able to do rehab right on the plane. It's an advantage our team will have over others."
The Panthers held an invitation-only party at the Sheltair Aviation hanger in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday afternoon to unveil the new aircraft.
The plane was supposed to leave Miami and make the short flight to Fort Lauderdale where fire engines and their water cannons were in place to salute the plane as it made its way to the party.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, the plane had yet to receive FAA approval to take off and never left its home base in Miami.
The party went on without its guest of honor.

"Many of you have traveled and dealt with delays. Unfortunately, our plane isn't going to make it,'' team executive Peter Luukko said as pictures of the jet sitting in its hanger flashed on a screen behind him.
"But this is a great day for us, it really is. The ability to have our own plane as we compete in the NHL is so important to us."
Tuesday's snafu notwithstanding, the Eastern jet was cleared Wednesday and is expected to whisk the Panthers off to Nashville Saturday.
The Panthers open their preseason with an exhibition doubleheader against the host Predators on Sunday.
In the past, the Panthers flew planes chartered through Miami Air which shuttles various professional teams which have included the likes of the Heat, Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays.
With Panthers' owner Vinny Viola controlling a majority stake in the new Eastern Airlines, it was no surprise his hockey team would be the first major sports team to sign on with the charter airline.
The new Panthers' plane is the third Eastern has acquired with two more scheduled to join the fleet later this year.
"We may charter it to others to create some revenue,'' Edward J. Wegel, Eastern's president and CEO, said.
"But right now we're focused on flying the Panthers and making sure all of preparations are focused on them and what they want. We hope once this plane is flying around the country and other teams see it, they'll call us and see what we can do for them.''
Unlike in years past, however, the plane -- when on the road with the Panthers -- will remain with the Panthers. That allows the travel flexibility coach Gerard Gallant enjoyed while he was with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"This is real exciting because it makes things so much easier on you,'' Gallant said. "The biggest thing was having familiarity with the crew and the pilots. You hate jumping on a plane and always seeing different people. Miami Air was perfect, a great chartering experience. But this is ours, our logo is on the plane. We're always going to have this plane. We'll never be late.''
The Panthers aren't the first local team to lease their own custom airplane.
This spring, the Marlins announced they were leaving the world of commercial charter travel by leasing a custom-painted 767 equipped with 84 seats, a massage table, couches and card tables.
The company the baseball team contracted with to supply the plane apparently didn't fulfill its obligations and Marlins' president David Samson said in June the team "may have to start over."
Wegel said the Marlins flew Eastern a few times this year and the airline would like to continue working with the Marlins as well as other professional teams.
Eastern's headquarters at Miami International Airport is, after all, just a few miles from Marlins Park.
The Panthers will continue to fly out of Fort Lauderdale.
"This is great for Eastern because we'll be flying into cities Eastern flew into in its first run as an airline,''
Wegel said.
"It's great to have the credibility of flying and NHL team."


TRAINING CAMP OPENS: Florida Panthers open practice Friday; Jonathan Huberdeau still unsigned

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards


The Panthers will report to training camp on Thursday with physicals and testing at BB&T Center.


The first practice will be held Friday at the IceDen in Coral Springs. Admission, as is always the case at practices held there, is free and open to the public.


The Panthers will report to camp without the services of Jonathan Huberdeau it appears. The team and Huberdeau still haven't come to a contactual agreement. Florida has offered Huberdeau a two-year deal; Florida holds his rights for the next four years.


The most recent Florida player to hold out was Dmitry Kulikov coming off the 2012-13 lockout. He signed his new deal following the abbreviated training camp but missed the opening game of the season.


The camp schedule is below. The roster is above.


Sept. 18: On-Ice Session

·9:45 a.m. Florida Panthers IceDen - Practice

·10:45 a.m. – Scrimmage - ‘Stadium Rink’


Sept. 19: On-Ice Session

·9:45 a.m. Florida Panthers IceDen - Practice

·10:45 a.m. – Scrimmage - ‘Stadium Rink’


Sept. 20: FLA @ NSH

Panthers at Predators 4:30 p.m. (EST)

Panthers at Predators 8 p.m. (EST)


Sept. 21: On-Ice Session

·12:00 PM: Practice


Sept. 22: DAL @ FLA

Stars at Panthers 7:30 p.m. (EST)


Sept. 23: OFF DAY


Sept. 24: On-Ice Session

·11 a.m. Florida Panthers IceDen – Practice


Sept. 25: FLA @TBL

Panthers at Lightning 7:30 p.m. (EST)


Sept. 26: TBD


Sept. 27: FLA@DAL

Panthers at Stars 8 p.m. (EST)


Oct. 3: TBL@FLA

Lightning at Panthers 7 p.m. (EST


September 09, 2015

BOOTH IS BACK: Panthers invite former leading goal scorer David Booth to training camp on a PTO

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

David Booth is a member of the Florida Panthers once again after the winger accepted a professional tryout Wednesday and will contend for a roster spot at training camp.
Florida will open training camp on Sept. 17 with the first on-ice workout coming Sept. 18 in Coral Springs.
Booth, 30, spent parts of six seasons with the Panthers from 2006-11.
Florida traded Booth to Vancouver six games into the 2011-12 season for Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm.
In 309 games with the Panthers, Booth scored 87 goals with 80 assists and led the team in goals twice.
Booth's best season with Florida came in 2008-09 when he scored 31 goals with 29 assists.
Booth signed a six-year deal with Florida worth $25.5 million in 2009, but his numbers started to slip after suffering a major concussion when struck by Philadelphia's Mike Richards early in the 2009-10 season.
Booth missed 45 games after Richards' hit then was lost for the remainder of that season after suffering a second concussion on a hit from Montreal's Jaroslav Spacek.
Although Booth scored 23 goals for the Panthers in 2010-11, he has just 17 over the past three seasons and the final year of the contract he signed with the Panthers was bought out by the Canucks before last season.
The Detroit native scored seven goals in 59 games for Toronto last year.
Florida selected Booth in the second round of the 2004 NHL Draft.
Some notes on Booth's return to the Florida Panthers:
-- The only real teammate Booth played with here who remains is defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.
-- Booth played six games with the Panthers in 2011-12; aside from Kulikov, only defensemen Brian Campbell and Erik Gudbranson remain from that team. They were both in their first seasons with the team that year.
-- Bryan McCabe, Florida's captain during some of Booth's time with the Panthers, remains with the team as director of player development.
-- The No. 10 Booth wore with the Panthers is available if he wants it. Booth wore No. 7 once moved to Vancouver and that belongs to Kulikov.
-- GM Dale Tallon traded Booth to Vancouver in his second season with the team.
-- Marco Sturm, who came over from Vancouver in the 2011 trade, remains in South Florida and is running the team's informal workouts in Coral Springs.



WORKING HIS WAY BACK: Rob Schremp spent past four years in Europe, will have chance to make Florida Panthers' AHL Portland Pirates

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
When Rob Schremp signed to play in Sweden, he figured he was in for a short European hockey vacation.
"I thought I was going to go there and come right back,'' Schremp said.
His stay turned into an extended one as he spent the past four years touring Europe by playing in five different leagues for teams in Sweden, Latvia, Austria and Switzerland.
"Soon it was like, 'aw man, I'm stuck here','' Schremp said.
"Now, I'm ready to come back."
The well-traveled 29-year-old -- who was a first round pick by Edmonton in 2004 -- is hoping the Florida Panthers have a place for him.
Schremp has been practicing at the Panthers' IceDen the past few weeks hoping to catch the eye of general manager Dale Tallon.
Schremp may have a chance to remain in South Florida some time down the line as he accepted Florida's offer to try out for the AHL Portland Pirates.
Although Schremp would like to make it back to the NHL for the first time since he suited up in the second-to-last game in Atlanta Thrashers history, just staying on this continent is a start.
"It's my dream to play in the NHL, to just play in North America,'' said Schremp, who has played in 114 NHL games with the Oilers, Islanders and Thrashers.
"I think playing Europe makes you gain a little appreciation of what's back here, what you maybe took for granted when you were here. It would be an honor to be able to come back, be with my buddies again. It's my goal and I'm pushing hard for it.''
When the Thrashers moved from Atlanta to Winnipeg, the team changed its management team. Rick Dudley, the GM who brought Schremp to Atlanta during what would be the team's final season in the south, didn't go with the team to Winnipeg. Schremp turned down Winnipeg's minor-league offer in 2011 for a contract in Sweden figuring he had played enough AHL hockey.
"Guys talk about going to play in Europe as just another place to play,'' said Schremp, who scored 47 goals in 217 AHL games for three different teams before going to Sweden.
"There are some great leagues there, good hockey and a lot of great people. But it's a totally different style. The rink is massive, like a rugby pitch. You would think with the big rink it would be more offensive, but teams have really tightened down."

One of the top junior players in Canada as a youngster, Schremp scored 57 goals in 57 games with the London, Ontario, Knights in 2005-06 and scored 126 goals over three OHL seasons.
Florida center Dave Bolland played with Schremp in London and the pair won the 2005 Memorial Cup by beating Sidney Crosby's Rimouski team as both scored goals in the championship game.
That kind of success, however, has eluded Schremp as a professional. He was drafted 25th overall by Edmonton but was eventually waived by the team and picked up by the Islanders.
New York also waived Schremp, leading to his brief time in Atlanta.
"I've grown up a lot over the years and now all I want is a shot to prove my game,'' said Schremp as he sat next to Bolland's locker stall in Coral Springs.
"I'm in a different spot now, I'm a different guy.''
After a season in Sweden, Schremp left for the KHL and a stint in Latvia.
Last year, Schremp played in Switzerland and according to his agent -- former Florida forward Serge Payer -- he had a contract offer to return there this year as well.
"In years past, I think I panicked a little bit because I didn't have a job,'' Schremp said of his extended term in Europe.
"When someone called, I took it. This year, I said no. I have to be patient and try and get back.''
Schremp wants to stay in North America and seems willing to fight the long odds to do so.
As training camp gets closer, there are plenty of players who spent time in the NHL last season without a job.
That includes a large number of players who played for the Panthers last season who remain unsigned including Tomas Fleischmann, Sean Bergenheim, Tomas Kopecky and Brad Boyes.
Scottie Upshall recently accepted a PTO from the St. Louis Blues.


The Panthers are expected, like most teams, to offer at least a few unemployed NHLers a professional tryout (PTO) and a chance to make the team out of training camp.
Schremp will get a chance to make Florida's minor league team and have the opportunity to show what he's got.
Schremp is expected to report to Portland's training camp on Sept. 27 although there could be room for him to start at Florida's camp next week.
"It would be a dream come true,'' said Schremp, who scored 20 goals in 114 NHL games and had 44 goals in Europe since leaving the Thrashers four years ago.
"I'm working as hard as I can. That's all I can do right now.''