With their opening night showdown against the Carolina Hurricanes just one day away the Florida Panthers spent Friday making final preparations for a shortened 2013 season. This is what we know so far leading up to tomorrow night’s game.
- During the final day of training camp this morning at the BB&T Center head coach Kevin Dineen picked veteran defenseman Ed Jovanovski as Florida’s newest captain. Dineen also named Stephen Weiss and Brian Campbell assistant captains.
- Florida has re-signed defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to a two year contract worth $2 million this season and $3 million in 2013-2014. There is a chance that he will play tomorrow night against Carolina in the home opener, but that depends on the results of his physical and if he can get some ice time in before Saturday evening.
- The Panthers announced that they have signed skilled forward Alex Kovalev to a one year deal. Kovalev made the roster after participating in Florida’s training camp on a tryout basis. Marek Svatos, another NHLer who was at camp as a tryout, was not signed.
- It was confirmed this morning that rookie forward Jonathan Huberdeau will start the season with Florida. He will fill the second line LW position and play along side Peter Mueller and Alex Kovalev.
- Multiple sources, including George Richards of the Miami Herald, have reported that Kris Versteeg left Friday’s practice with an undisclosed injury and is currently questionable for the home opener on Saturday. he joins a growing list of injured Panthers that includes Erik Gudbranson, Mike Weaver, Sean Bergenheim, and Marcel Goc.
- The Cats placed Mike Santorelli and James Wright on waivers Thursday afternoon. Santorelli cleared while Wright was claimed by the Winnipeg Jets.
Here is some information regarding opening night against the Carolina Hurricanes:
- Sunrise Sports and Entertainment, along with the Florida Panthers, are reporting that there are less than 1,000 tickets remaining for tomorrow night’s game at the BB&T Center. Tickets can be purchased via Ticketmaster, StubHub, NHL ticket exchange, or at the arena’s box office.
- Parking gates open at 5:00 PM, doors open at 6:00 PM.
- Miniature SouthEast Division Championship banners will be handed out to all fans in attendance on Saturday.
- The Panthers sent out an e-mail this morning that asks fans to be in their seats by 7:15 PM because the on-ice festivities, including the raising of Florida’s SouthEast Division Championship banner, will begin at 7:20 PM.
- Players will be signing autographs after the game on the JetBlue Tarmac (outside the front doors). This was announced with the tagline “Players Subject to Availability.”
If anyone plans on arriving at the arena early feel free to stop by parking lot section A-52. A bunch of loyal Panthers fans, including yours truly, will be out their tailgating before and after the game.
With the new collective bargaining agreement finally in place information for the upcoming shortened season is coming out fast. Late last night the 2013, 48 game schedule was released for all 30 National Hockey League teams. Later that evening the Florida Panthers also officially announced their one week training camp roster, which contains 32 players, making for a much shorter list than that of a normal pre-season squad.
Camp began this morning with player physicals and media events, and will continue until Friday, January 18th. Players will hit the ice starting tomorrow, January 14th, at 10:00 AM EST for their first practice. The Panthers will hold an inter-squad scrimmage at 7:00 PM EST on Wednesday, January 16th, at the Saveology.com Iceplex. All training camp events, including Wednesday’s scrimmage, are open to the general public.
2013 Florida Panthers Training Camp Roster:
4 – Keaton Ellerby
9 – Stephen Weiss
11 – Jonathan Huberdeau
12 – Jack Skille
13 – Mike Santorelli
14 – Tomas Fleischmann
17 – Filip Kuba
18 – Shawn Matthias
19 – Scottie Upshall
20 – Sean Bergenheim
22 – George Parros
23 – Tyson Strachan
25 – Jerred Smithson
27 – Alex Kovalev *
30 – Scott Clemmensen
32 – Kris Versteeg
35 – Jacob Markstrom
40 – Marek Svatos *
41 – James Wright
42 – Quinton Howden
43 – Mike Weaver
44 – Erik Gudbranson
50 – Drew Shore
51 – Brian Campbell
52 – Jon Rheault *
55 – Ed Jovanovski
57 – Marcel Goc
60 – Jose Theodore
62 – Michael Caruso
72 – Alexander Petrovic
82 – Tomas Kopecky
88 – Peter Mueller
- Alex Kovalev, Marek Svatos, and Jon Rheault are all participating in Florida’s camp on a tryout basis.
- Panthers fans should notice that a familiar name is missing from the roster, Dmitry Kulikov. The Florida defenseman is currently a restricted free agent and cannot play for the Cats until he signs a new contract.
- Head coach Kevin Dineen said that he will be choosing a captain for the Panthers before their season opener against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, January 19th.
- Sean Bergenheim, Marcel Goc, and Erik Gudbranson are injured. Gudbranson is still recovering from shoulder surgery and has not been cleared yet while the extent of Bergenheim and Goc’s injuries are unknown at this point.
- Bob McKenzie of TSN reported that Florida hopes to have Gudbranson back in the lineup within two to three weeks.
Keep checking back with Sunshine State Hockey for all of the latest Florida Panthers and NHL news.
For moment #4 on Sunshine State Hockey’s top 10 countdown of the best moments from the Florida Panthers 2011-2012 season I am going to share my personal experience. By doing so I hope that everyone can realize just how special this moment was, especially for someone who has never witnessed live playoff hockey until this season. This rare event is something every hockey fan dreams of witnessing in their home arena, no matter how nervous they get. Of course I am talking about game 7.
#4 – Game 7, nothing better (April 26th, 2012)
Even though the final score of game 7 between the New Jersey Devils and the Florida Panthers was not one the home fans wanted it seemed everyone still left the BankAtlantic Center smiling, including me. Why would people smile after such a tough loss? Because we got to scream to the top of our lungs when Marcel Goc tied it late after the Cats trailed for the majority of the game. We witnessed the Panthers leaving it all on the ice until Adam Henrique scored the final goal in double OT for the Devils. We smiled walking out of the BAC that night because we got to see our team go to double OT in game 7 after not watching playoff hockey in South Florida for 12 years. Most importantly though there were smiles on our faces because we all knew that this was just the beginning.
By the way, those same New Jersey Devils that the Panthers pushed to the brink of elimination are currently locked in a battle with the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals. The Devils also easily made it past the Philadelphia Flyers in round two to advance to their current series, so Florida’s performance in the quarterfinals looks really good at this point. As Panthers fans continue to watch the 2012 NHL playoffs and imagine what could have been we all still keep those smiles on our faces because we know that soon it will be the Panthers locked in a heated Eastern Conference finals’ battle to see who advances to play for the Stanley Cup.
Browse the links below for great content related to moment #4 and be sure to check in with SSH tomorrow when we reveal moment #3 on our top 10 list.
Hopefully last night’s win didn’t cause everyone to forget about the opening night W against the Lightning at the BankAtlantic Center. If it did we completely understand and will help our fellow Panthers fans remember by providing a slideshow of images from that night. Most of these shots were conducted during warm-ups before Florida donned their new jerseys. Either way these are some great shots taken by Sunshine State Hockey’s own Ana Lopez.
It seems that Sunshine State Hockey might be a little late to this prediction party. Is that going to stop us from sharing our opinions on how we think the Panthers will do during the 2011-2012 NHL season? Of course not. Each member of the SSH writing team was asked to submit their take on how Florida will fare this year after all of the major off-season changes. Read below to see what Ana, Rob, and I had to say about the Cats and their upcoming season.
In my opinion, the Panthers will come in 3rd in the Southeast division and 8th or 9th overall in the Eastern Conference when all is said and done. If Florida misses the playoffs it will be only by 2-4 points. My reasoning for this? I think we have a solid team core now, but a big gray area for me is how the goaltending will turn out to be with Clemmensen and Theodore in net. I wasn’t really impressed by their performances during the pre-season and I am hoping that they were just a little rusty from the off-season.
The Panthers picked up a lot of new faces this off-season and one of the main concerns was how long it would take for them to gel. Over the past few pre-season games it seems we’ve gotten our answer as we see teammates sticking up, fighting, and all around just caring for each other. Will this be enough to put Florida back into the postseason? probably not, and I say that because there’s still far too many questions left to be answered. Will Jose Theodore step up and be the number one goalie he was in the past or will he show signs from a darker time in his career? Will Jovanovski step up and be the workhorse on the back end he’s been known for his entire career or will he be riddled with injuries like in the past two seasons? The forwards look better on paper and have more depth than they have in a very long time, but can that transition from the paper to the ice this season?
Only time will tell, and as far as a prediction for the season at this current time I’m going to have to say that Florida will definitely be improved from the past few seasons, but they won’t be making the playoffs. I hope they surprise me and prove me wrong because I would be one of the happiest fans if they made it, but until then I’d see them finishing around 85 points this season, putting the Cats around 10th in the Eastern Conference.
By now everyone in the hockey community knows what General Manager Dale Tallon did to the Florida Panthers this off-season. All of the new faces brought in means two things for this team, improvement and question marks. There is no doubt that this is the most talented team that Florida has put on the ice in the last decade, but with all the new faces comes a lot of questions, many of which were covered by Rob in his prediction.
The biggest question mark for me at this time is the goalie situation. It’s been ten years since Jose Theodore was one of the best starting goalies in the National Hockey League, so it comes as no surprise to hear that a lot of people are nervous about Florida’s goaltending. Scott Clemmensen is going to have to step up after he returns from the IR because the only way Florida survives this year with a chance to make the playoffs is if both netminders split time between the pipes.
As far as my prediction goes I believe the Panthers do have a chance at making the playoffs. I don’t see Florida being any higher than 8th place this season, so they will have to battle all year long to make it. There is no doubt in my mind though that this year will be just the beginning of good hockey returning to south Florida.