As The Panthers Face a Crossroads, A Difficult Decision Must Be Made

While many teams around the NHL have had their fair share of hardships, it’s difficult to say that any team is more universally associated with losing than the Florida Panthers. In the midst of their 20th anniversary season, the hapless Panthers have only managed to reach the playoffs four times since their conception. However, even though they lack a winning tradition, the Panthers still have the potential to change their image – possibly sooner than expected.

Even though they are currently blessed with one of the most talented group of prospects in the entire NHL, it’s no longer acceptable for the team to sell the idea that these young players will lead the Panthers to the promise land in the near future. While prospects like Rocco Grimaldi, Vincent Trocheck, and Mike Matheson are all individually gifted, the Panthers have proven to be anything but effective at cultivating young talent throughout their history.

Of the 23 first-round picks in the team’s history, none have come close to reaching the levels of stardom that were expected of them. While part of this developmental hindrance can be attributed to draft day blunders, it’s hard to believe that a team simply could have swung and missed on that many first round picks.

[Read more...]

Panthers’ Prospects: 3 Stars of the Month (October Edition)

Although the Florida Panthers may be off to a cold start this season, their group of talented young prospects are hotter than ever in their respective junior leagues. Dale Tallon and the Panthers have been accumulating top prospects over the past several seasons and each year we get to sit back and marvel at the growth and development of the future stars in the making.

Below, I list my top 3 Panthers’ Prospects for the month of October:

1. Christopher Clapperton

Drafted in the 5th round by the Florida Panthers this season, the Quebec native Christopher Clapperton has been a man on a mission during the month of October as he currently sits 13th in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in points, scoring a whopping 23 points (7g-16a-23p) in just 13 games played. In fact, Clapperton is the only player in the top 20  who hasn’t played 15 or more games. Clapperton finished 2nd in scoring with the Blainville-Boisbriand of the QMJHL last season, and has shown no signs of slowing down as he leads his team in both points and assists. While Clapperton may not have the foot-speed and size of other young Panthers’ prospects, he has the determination and willingness to create plays and find the back of the net, and often, which he has shown thus far. Clapperton has also proved that he’s not just a player that shows up on the score sheet, but can also play a physical, and gritty style game which he brings with him night after night. So far this season alone, he’s racked up just enough PIMs (20) to put him with the 3rd most on his team, and 14th amongst the top 40 scorers in the QMJHL.

2. Vincent Trocheck

Over the past few weeks, Panthers’ fans have been screaming out for Panther’s prospect Vincent Trocheck to make his NHL debut to help give the Panthers the scoring spark they so desperately need. While I don’t necessarily agree that Trocheck is the answer at the moment, I certainly understand the desperation from fans. The 20-year-old Pittsburgh native who won both the scoring title (109 pts) and league MVP with the Plymouth Whalers last season, recently made the jump to the American Hockey League, currently residing in Texas with the San Antonio Rampage. There are always uncertainties with players who make the jump from a junior league to a pro league, but so far Trocheck has shown no signs of slowing his game down. The speedy centerman currently leads his team with 9 points in 8 games, and sits tied for 2nd in rookie points, just behind Tampa Bay Lightning prospect, Nikita Kucherov.

3. Kyle Rau

With the Minnesota Gophers 2013-2014 season already 6 games in, Kyle Rau has wasted no time adjusting to life without line-mate and current Panther centerman, Nick Bjugstad. With a handful of highly touted college prospects in the Florida Panthers system such as Mike Matheson, Ian McCoshen, and Rocco Grimaldi, it’s Kyle Rau who comes out on top for the month of October with 8 points in 6 games, and a 1.33 points-per-game average. With a little help from their Captain who is 4th in the NCAA assists category with 7 helpers, the Gophers currently sit at the top of the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Division 1 standings with a strong 5-0-1 record.


Honorable Mentions:

  • Mackenzie Weegar- QMJHL- (3g-12a-15p in 17 gms)
  • Rocco Grimaldi-NCAA- (2g-3a-5p in 5 gms)
  • Alexander Delnov- WHL- (7g-8a-15p in 15 gms)
  • Ian McCoshen- NCAA- (2g-1a-3p in 5 gms)

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Vincent Trocheck: From OHL MVP to NHL Hopeful

Vincent Trocheck  (Natalie Shaver)

Vincent Trocheck (Natalie Shaver)

An OHL scoring champion, Red Tilson Trophy winner, and World Junior gold medalist - No, this isn’t an article about Hart Trophy finalist John Tavares, but rather the Florida Panthers’ highly touted prospect, Vincent Trocheck.

Selected by the Panthers  in the 3rd round (64th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Trocheck became a household name to many hockey fans this year after seemingly coming out of nowhere to dominate the Ontario Hockey League. Trocheck finished the 2012-2013 OHL season with a staggering 109 points (50G-59A-109P) in 63 games split between the Saginaw Spirit and Plymouth Whalers. Amazingly, Trocheck became the 2nd consecutive player within the Panthers’ organization to win the Red Tilson Trophy as MVP of the OHL. Last season, goalie prospect Michael Houser (free agent signed by Florida on July 10, 2012) was awarded the trophy for his outstanding play for London Knights.

[Read more...]

Rocco Grimaldi: Panthers Find Big Heart in Their Smallest Skater

Rocco Grimaldi (Natalie Shaver)

Rocco Grimaldi (Natalie Shaver)

With an unrelenting work ethic and a positive attitude that never falters, the Florida Panthers’ smallest prospect, Rocco Grimaldi, is already well on his way to building a big future in the NHL. Standing at just 5’6, Grimaldi will look to travel down a road paved by players like Marcel Dionne (5’8), Martin St. Louis (5’8), Theo Fleury (5’6), and more recently, Cory Conacher (5’8) to name a few. Skaters that had to not only overcome their opponents on the ice, but the limitations of their stature as well. However, just like John Locke from ABC’s Lost, don’t tell Rocco what he can’t do.

Selected in the 2nd round (33rd overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Grimaldi has quickly begun to turn heads around the NHL through his stellar offensive play and blazing end-to-end speed while playing for the University of North Dakota. In his freshman season at UND, Grimaldi finished 3rd in team scoring with an impressive 36 points (13G-23A-36P) while quickly becoming one of the team’s most dangerous offensive weapons. In the end, Grimaldi’s collegiate season ended when UND’s Frozen Four bid was cut short by an upset at the hands of Yale University. However, with increased minutes and a chip on his shoulder, Grimaldi will enter the 2013-2014 season determined to bring an NCAA Championship to North Dakota.

[Read more...]

Panthers Close Out Development Camp

Last day of Development Camp

Florida Panthers Development Camp

After a long week of early mornings and tough workouts for  the next generation of great young Florida Panthers, the team ‘s yearly development camp finally came to an end on Friday - culminating with a scrimmage and skills competition to entertain the large group of fans that were in attendance. With a grueling week of practices and power skating in the books, players were delighted to have some fun by competing against one another, as well as showcasing their own personal talents in shootout drills. Skaters like Rocco Grimaldi and Vincent Trocheck were able to bring fans to their feet with dazzling shootout maneuvers that really helped fans leave this year’s camp with both a smile on their face and hope for the team’s future.

With both Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau sidelined due to injuries, the spotlight shifted throughout the week as numerous players made their names known through their exceptional play during practices. Skaters such as Vincent Trocheck, Mike Matheson, and Logan Shaw have all now become household names to Panthers’ fans as they look to continue to build upon an already strong foundation of talented young prospects. We here at Panther Parkway were able to sit down with numerous prospects from this year’s camp and will be giving them each their own individual stories throughout the coming weeks.

[Read more...]

Panthers’ Prospects Highlight NCAA D-1 Hockey Tournament


As the Florida Panthers fall further out of the playoff picture, the Panthers of the future are getting set to begin their quest for a championship of their own. On Sunday night, the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee announced the 16 teams that would be competing in this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship.

The championship playoff format involves four predetermined regional sites with four teams assigned to each site. The winner of each region will advance to the “Frozen Four” in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. To add even more drama to the already exciting event, the entire championship uses a single-elimination format, so every game will be ripe with suspense.

Of the 16 teams participating in this year’s tournament, 5 currently have at least one Florida Panther prospect on their roster. Overall, the Panthers have 7 prospects competing in this year’s tournament - an amazing number considering the Panthers’ already have an NHL-leading 12 total prospects playing at the NCAA level.

Please continue [Read more...]


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,369 other followers

%d bloggers like this: