Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sorry, but the delays will be just a bit longer...

Some things have come up that have commanded my attention, and on top of that, I'm moving this week. So I haven't had a chance to do much of anything, or write much of anything.

I'll still get on here and put up what I can, but the game updates and prospect stuff will be minimal for a few more days, if not a week. It depends on Comcast transferring service to the new place and whatever else I've got to get done.

So with that said:

Rostislav Olesz had his surgery today Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia. His recovery is apparently six to twelve weeks. The season ends in ten, so let's hope he heals up fast.

In Rochester, Kenndall McArdle suffered a shoulder injury and will be out three or four weeks. The unfortunate part of this is that it's the type of injury that can happen again, and more easily, in the future. Hopefully his rehab will go well and that won't be a problem down the road.

Immediately following the game against the Islanders on January 31st (10PM or so), FSN will premiere the newest edition of Inside the Panthers: Rochester - Life in the Minors. The program will be focused on the Amerks' players this season, and apparently will feature Keaton Ellerby walking a camera crew through his home. It looks like it will be a great episode, so check it out after the game on Saturday night.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ellerby Gets Some Attention in the NHL All-Star Game

If you're like me, and you didn't know that Keaton Ellerby and Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price were cousins, you do now.

When the Panthers drafted Ellerby, he mentioned that Shane Doan was a cousin of his, but I figured that was it. Needless to say, I was a little surprised when Carey Price started answering questions about Keaton in the second period during CBC's broadcast of this evening's All-Star game.

So, I wrote the interview down just for you. It's nothing major, but what the heck. It's something to read, right?

CBC: With Carey Price. Carey, how did you find the All-Star experience? I don't think they were as strong defensively as your Canadiens normally are.
Price: No, that's for sure, but the guys did a good job. I get help from my folks and I came out alright.

CBC: Keaton Ellerby, did he make it here?
Price: Yes, he did.

CBC: Your cousin Keaton, there had been a lot of talk about Shane Doan, but Ellerby, I know you guys are very close. It was important for you that he was able to get here, wasn't it?
Price: Yeah, it was nice to see him. He got here this morning so I spent the afternoon with him.

CBC: What is the relationship between the two of you guys? Why are you guys so close?
Price: Well, we train together and we skate together all summer long, so we spend a lot of time together. We spend a good two- and-a-half months together.

CBC: He's a real fitness freak and I guess that helped you out, too.
Price: Yeah, for sure. We spend a lot of time in the gym.

So there you have it. Whatever "it" may be.

2009 NHL All-Star Game

Jay Bouwmeester had a pretty good performance during last night's skills competition, finishing in the middle during the fastest skater competition and then scoring in the shootout event at the end before being eliminated in the second round.

He did better tonight.

Bouwmeester assisted on an early goal that made it 2-1 for the East way back in the first period and then picked up another assist in the latter half of the third period on the goal that tied the game at 10. When the West reclaimed the lead two minutes later, Bouwmeester gave the East his third point of the evening by taking a pass from Alexander Ovechkin, moving in on net and firing the puck past Roberto Luongo high to the stick side.

The goal tied the game at 11, and ultimately was won by the Eastern Conference in a shootout.

I'm just finishing up transcribing the interview that CBC had with Carey Price, which centered largely on Price's relationship with his cousin, Keaton Ellerby.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

NHL Skills Competition Starting

The Panthers will have two representatives in events during tonight's Skills Competition -- Jay Bouwmeester will skate in the first event of the night: Fastest Skater, while Michael Frolik will play in the YoungStars game. The three-on-three 18-minute game is third on this evening's schedule.

If you've got VS, it's starting now.

* Bouwmeester skated his lap at 14.59, but it was Andrew Cogliano of the Edmonton Oilers that came out on top at 14.31.

** Michael Frolik went without points in the YoungStars game. The rookies won, 9-5. But that doesn't really tell you much about what happened. Frolik was just extremely unselfish with the puck. He played well and he had a good time.

*** Bouwmeester wound up scoring on his first shot in the shootout contest, but he was eliminated in the second round.

NHL or Bust for Sprukts

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle ran a story about Rochester center Janis Sprukts on Thursday; specifically about Sprukts' desire to play in the NHL or return home to Europe. If you're a fan of Sprukts, the quotes aren't all that promising.
To me, it seemed right away there wasn't much interest up top. I signed to be playing in The Show, to be playing in the NHL. I don't look at myself as an AHL player for the rest of my career. I don't have anything to hide. This is not my place.

There's no criticism by any means of Rochester, and one can only really guess what was said to lure him back to North America, but if he was promised something more, he's definitely been civil about it, and thankfully, he's done everything that he's been asked. Of course, losing a player that brings that attitude and presence is never something you want to happen.

But looking at the quotes, one probably has to assume Sprukts won't re-sign with the Panthers even if he's told that he'll play in the NHL. After all, it seems like that was the impression he got the first time around.
It's not in my nature to hang up the skates. I still have my obligation to play while I'm here. I still want to show I can play. I will always try to do my best job.

Maybe Sprukts will get a shot with another NHL club, but he can still get paid to play hockey back home, and he can sign where he wants -- and will get -- to play.

The full story can be found here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hockey's Future: 2008-09 Panthers' NCAA Update

A couple days ago, Hockey's Future put together an update on the progress of Panthers prospects playing in college. They're all there, so check it out.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Olesz Needs Surgery

Well, it's official. Rostislav Olesz, who hasn't played since December 4th due to a groin injury, has a sports hernia that will require surgery.

Jacques Martin told the Miami Herald that Olesz could miss two months, though it's always possible he comes back sooner -- or later. But, as of now, there hasn't been any announced date for the procedure, so Olesz isn't recovering from anything, yet.

If the surgery is done this week or next, given the estimated eight week timeframe, Olesz would likely return sometime in late March.

The 23-year old winger is in the first year of a six year extension that will pay him $18.75 million.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Panthers 2 | Sabres 3 (SO)

Tonight's loss was a tough one for the Cats to swallow, but it was definitely an exciting game with lots of end-to-end action.

David Booth shone for the Panthers again, and in the beginning of the game, was awarded a penalty shot after he was tripped up on a breakaway. He scored a dandy on his first career penalty shot and put Florida up 1-0.

Richard Zednik had a great game, and it's been a lot of fun watching him play lately. He set up Florida's tying goal in the final minutes of the third to force overtime, but he's been involved in quite a few significant plays especially over the past few games, and there's been a noticeable edge to his game.

The Panthers now have 50 points and that's good enough for 8th in the East. While the Penguins have 50 points of their own, Florida has two games in hand.

Ville Peltonen has no structural damage to his knee and he's day-to-day. DeBoer told the Sun-Sentinel that he won't be playing Wednesday, but may be back for the first game after the All-Star break. So that's great news.

As for the suspension that Artyukhin picked up, the CBA dictates that, based on salary, Artyukhin will forfeit $10,215.06. That money will go in to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Lastly, former Panther Cory Murphy had a good debut with the Lightning tonight. I watched a few minutes during commercials on the Cats' game, and I really think that if he can stay healthy, he's still got a chance to establish an NHL career. He's got the awareness and hands to be an effective power-play quarterback, and if his skating and positioning can improve to compensate for his small stature, he's got a shot. Anyway, Murphy took two penalties tonight, but he assisted on Tampa's go-ahead power-play goal against Dallas. It was ultimately the game-winning goal.

So, good luck to Cory Murphy with his new club.

Bartkowski Named CCHA Rookie of the Week

Ohio State defenseman Matt Bartkowski has been named the Central Collegiate Hockey Association's Rookie of the Week for the second time this season as a result of his performances over the weekend.

From the Buckeyes' website:
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Senior forward Corey Elkins and freshman defenseman Matt Bartkowski have been named CCHA Offensive Player and Rookie of the Week, respectively, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association announced Monday. The duo helped the Buckeyes to a 1-0-1 weekend at Ferris State, with a 6-2 victory Friday and a 2-2 tie (shootout win) Saturday, extending the team’s unbeaten streak to 12.

Pittsburgh, Pa., native Bartkowski also was named CCHA Rookie of the Week Oct. 27. Against Ferris State he had a goal and an assist and a +1 mark, along with two blocked shots. He had an assist and was +1 in the victory Friday. Saturday he scored a goal to put the Buckeyes ahead in the second period and had a team season-high nine shots on goal. This season Bartkowski has three goals, eight assists and 11 points, with a +11 mark.

And the mini write-up at the CCHA site can be found here.

Matt Bartkowski, 19, was drafted by the Panthers with their final pick in last summer's entry draft, 190th overall. Prior to college, he played in the United States Hockey League for two seasons with the Lincoln Stars, scoring nine points in 57 games as a rookie and then eclipsed those totals with 42 points in 60 games last year.

Prospect Update: Week of 1.12.09

Rochester's been picking up wins quite often lately, and they were on the road for three games last week to come away with two more.

Head coach Benoit Groulx started Chris Beckford-Tseu on Wednesday night against the Binghamton Senators, and Rochester played like a totally different team, and after Binghamton scored twice in less than a minute (12 minutes in to the first period), the team's confidence was gone. The Sens added a third goal (second on a power play) 56 seconds in to the second, and Mike Duco scored after a set up from Shawn Matthias and Stefan Meyer. All that remained was an empty net goal for the Senators, and the Amerks, who outshot Binghmaton 37-28, finished up on the wrong end of a 4-1 final.

It was during a fight in that game that Riley Emmerson reinjured his ankle and Stefan Meyer sprained his knee in the game. Beckford-Tseu is now 3-12-1 and his GAA and save percentage are 378 and .871%, respectively.

Moving forward to Friday night's game against the Manchester Monarchs, Brodeur was back in net and Luke Beaverson and Andrew Sweetland were called up from the Everblades to fill in for the injured players.

A power play goal in the first five minutes put Manchester on top, but Rochester answered back pretty quickly when Janis Sprukts (Garrison, Larman) scored his ninth goal of the year. The lead, however, was short-lived and less than three minutes later, the Monarchs were back on top and this time, the goal came on a two-man advantage. Manchester would pad their lead 57 seconds in to the second period and the score held at 3-1 until nearly the end of the frame when Janis Sprukts (Repik, Garrison) scored his second of the game and tenth of the season to the cut the deficit to one. Halfway through the third period, the Amerks capitalized on a power play and it was, once again, Janis Sprukts (Brine, Garrison) picking up the goal for his eleventh on the year to make it Manchester 3 - Sprukts 3, but it changed immediately thanks to Shawn Matthias' sixth goal of the year (Duco, Ellerby). Kenndal McArdle iced it with an empty net tally (Sprukts, Garrison) and Rochester skated off with a 5-3 win, despite trailing 3-1 early.

Goaltender Mike Brodeur stopped 33 of 36 and improved to 11-4-1 with the win. Sprukts had a hat trick and an assist (four points) and Jason Garrison had four assists of his own.

The third and final game of the road trip would be against the Atlantic Division leading Providence Bruins. Rochester elected to start Mike Brodeur again.

Providence was up 2-0 before the seven-minute-mark of the first period thanks to two quick goals, one of which came on the power play, less than 40 seconds apart. But the Amerks got one back no more than 50 seconds after the second goal was scored when Rory Fitzpatrick (McArdle, Sprukts) capitalized on a Rochester power play. Soon after, Janis Sprukts scored his 12th of the year (Aston, Larman) and before the period had ended, Kenndal McArdle had a goal of his own (Sprukts, Fitzpatrick). In the second, the only goal came off the stick of Amerks' center Drew Larman. It was his fourth of the year, with assists to Andrew Sweetland and Janis Sprukts. Providence would get one back, but the Amerks were able to hold on and pick up a 4-3 win.

Brodeur stopped 30 of 33, improving to 12-4-1. His GAA is 2.07 and his save percentage is a healthy .933%. Both of those stats are currently top-three for goaltenders in the AHL.


The Elmira Jackals played four games this week, but David Shantz started only two and was only dressed for three of the four games. He allowed five goals on twenty-five shots Tuesday against Tyler Plante and the Dayton Bombers to lose 6-3, and the following night with Plante sitting out the second night of a back-to-back, Shantz faced a total of 13 shots on the entire night. He allowed three goals, but the Jackals flipped the scores around and won 6-3.

Shantz is 5-4-1 with Elmira with one shutout, a 2.88 GAA and an .887%.

Tyler Plante appeared in three games for Dayton with the first being the Shantz/Plante showdown on Tuesday night. In the game, Plante stopped 32 of 35 and then in the second game of the back-to-back, he was called upon to replace Drew Paul halfway through the game. Dayton trailed 4-0 at the time. Plante only faced seven shots and allowed a goal, but the Bombers were too far behind to come back. His last game of the week was Saturday against Johnstown. Plante stopped 23 of 25, but the Chiefs won the game, 2-1.

Plante is 6-9-0 with a 3.08 GAA and a save percentage right at .900%.


The Saginaw Spirit had a great week, winning all three games that they played, and defenseman Adam Comrie helped out offensively, assisting on two goals (22, 23) -- including the overtime winner -- on Friday's 3-2 victory in Ottawa and scoring once (8) in Sunday's 6-3 win at Kingston. . . James DeLory was named the Oshawa Generals' captain for all home games, and serves as an alternate captain for all road games. He had two assists in Friday night's 5-3 win at Mississauga , first on a power play goal and later, shorthanded. The Generals returned home for two games, and DeLory served as the Generals' captain in a 5-2 loss to Guelph and a 5-4 win against Sault Ste. Marie. . . For Guelph, Panthers' defense prospect Corey Syvret had two assists (14, 15) in Friday's game against London, and he added another (16) in Saturday's 5-2 win in Oshawa. . . A.J. Jenks was scoreless on Friday in Plymouth's 5-3 win against the Barrie Colts, but he only played for eleven seconds on Saturday after jumping in to a brawl that saw six players sent to the box and four with fighting majors. Jenks and his opponent, Marcus Carroll, were each given a game misconduct and both have been suspended for two games by the OHL. . . Brady Calla played in three games this week with the Spokane Chiefs, scoring his first goal with the new club on Wednesday in a 4-2 win against Portland. Spokane defeated Portland again on Friday 7-1, with Calla held of the board, but he registered an assist on the game-tying goal Saturday against Tri-City. The Chiefs won the game after the shootout by a 2-1 final. . . The Brandon Wheat Kings scored 14 goals in two games last week, winning by scores of 7-2 and 7-4. Defenseman Colby Robak had an assist (15) in Friday's 7-2 win against Prince Albert and was a +2 in the rematch, and win, on Saturday night.


Matt Rust only played in one of Michigan's two games against Bowling Green over the weekend. He had four shots, but the Wolverines were beaten 3-0. . . Ohio State defenseman Matt Bartkowski was on the top pairing for the weekend series against Ferris State and in Friday's 6-2 victory, Bartkowski picked up his eighth assist of the year. When the teams faced off again the following night, the defenseman scored his third goal of the year to put Ohio State ahead 2-1, but the game would need to be settled in a shootout, and Ohio State would ultimately come away with a 3-2 victory. . . Ryan Watson was scoreless while centering Western Michigan's third line on Friday night against Alabama-Huntsville, although WMU won the game 4-3. The next night, Western Michigan rolled to a 5-1 win with Watson scoring a goal (4) and adding an assist (2).


Derrick LaPoint and the North Dakota Fighting Sioux were unbeaten over the weekend against Michigan Tech, although they could only muster up a 3-3 tie on Friday. On Saturday, LaPoint had an assist and went +2 in North Dakota's 5-0 win. . . Denver didn't play last week.

Hockey East

Maine had a frustraing weekend and despite outshooting their opponents by a considerable margin in both games, the Black Bears wound up losing 3-1 to Bentley and finished in a 2-2 draw against Providence. Defenseman Matt Duffy had nine shots on goal in the two games, but no points to show for it and only a -3 for his efforts. . . Brian Foster faced 24 shots and allowed four goals, but the Wildcats scored six of their own against Dartmouth. It was the Wildcats' only game of the week.


Brynäs played against MODO and Frölunda last week and Jacob Markström was in net for both contests. In the former, Markström stopped 28 of 30, but the offense could only get one goal through and the game was MODO's, 2-1 the final. Saturday night, Markström faced 24 shots from Frölunda, and he turned aside 23. Brynäs only had 17 shots in the game, but they scored three times and came away with the win.

Through 28 games, Markström has a 2.18 GAA and a .926%.

Cory Murphy Claimed by Tampa

The Tampa Bay Lightning have claimed Panthers' defenseman Cory Murphy off of re-entry waivers.

Florida will be on the hook for 50% of Murphy's salary for the rest of the season, and after that, he'll become an unrestricted free agent.

Artyukhin Suspended

Tampa Bay right wing Evgeny Artyukhin has been suspended for two games by the NHL as a result of his knee-on-knee hit with Ville Peltonen on Saturday night.

As for Peltonen's status, there's no update yet. Hopefully that'll change within the next few hours.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Waiver Claims (Schedule)

In the post below this one, when I mentioned that Cory Murphy is on waivers, I also added that it's 48 hours instead of the usual 24 during the week.

I figured, if you're not familiar with the deadlines in the first place, that's just going to make it more unclear. So, I'll make a table and copy what it says in the current CBA about waivers and save you the trouble of downloading it and looking there.

Still, if you're interested in taking a peek at the CBA, it's worth checking out.

This particular excerpt is in article 13, section 18. It starts at the bottom of page 75.

Monday24 hoursTuesday
Tuesday24 hoursWednesday
Wednesday24 hoursThursday
Thursday24 hoursFriday
Friday24 hoursSaturday
Saturday48 hoursMonday
Sunday48 hoursTuesday

Note 1: "DISPATCHED" is the day NHL's Central Registry processes a team's request to waive a player. In other words, where it says "DISPATCHED" you can read that as, "Player Placed on Waivers".

Note 2: "WAIVER PERIOD" is simply the amount of time the player is on waivers. It's the window in which another NHL club can place a claim for the player.

Note 3: "EXPIRY DAY" is the claiming deadline. At noon on this day, the window has closed for claims to be placed for the player on waivers.

If no claim is made, this is when the player clears waivers and returns to his club (he can also be assigned to the AHL/ECHL at this point).

But, if a claim, or multiple claims, are placed prior to noon on this day, the "EXPIRY DAY" is when all parties involved find out what happening and what NHL club will be acquiring the player.

Note 4: It's worth noting that if a player is claimed off waivers and moves to a new NHL club, the new club CAN NOT freely assign him to the AHL without first placing him on waivers and having him clear.

This schedule applies to regular waivers, re-entry waivers and unconditional waivers.

Injuries and Murphy

Rostislav Olesz will be headed to Philadelphia on Tuesday to see a specialist about the injury that has kept him out since the beginning of December. Exactly what that injury is, and it's severity, remains unclear. It may be a sports hernia, and surgery may become an option depending on the ruling given this week. If that's the case, we won't be seeing Olesz on the ice for another month, if not longer.

Kamil Kreps is possible to return Monday night, and if Ville Peltonen's injury is as serious as it looked immediately after it happened, the timing will help the Panthers out quite a bit.

As for Peltonen, while playing with a broken bone in his right foot last night, he was tripped up in a heavy knee-on-knee with Tampa's Evgeny Artyukhin. Ville's going to be re-examined today, if he hasn't already, so we ought to know something sooner rather than later. Artyukhin, on the other hand; his hit might be reviewed by the league. It looked intentional to me, but we'll let the league decide on that one. The Panthers got a power play as a result of the "tripping" penalty that Artyukhin was assessed, and the goal that was scored on that power play would prove to be the goal that put Florida on top for good.

Only other tidbit is that Cory Murphy is definitely on re-entry waivers. Florida recalled him from his loan to the Everblades on Saturday, and as a result, teams have 48 hours to place a claim instead of the usual 24 hour limit when a player is waived on a weekday. So we should know by noon tomorrow if Murphy is still a Panther. If he isn't claimed, we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Murphy Update

If you're hoping to see that Cory Murphy's coming back to play for you guys in Rochester, I'm sorry to say, I'm going to disappoint you.

Florida assigned Murphy to the Everblades on Friday and the move is reflected in the day's transaction reports: ECHL Transactions.

To the curious: an NHL club can assign any player on an entry level contract to the ECHL without the player's consent, but if the player has progressed beyond the entry-level system, he has to give his consent to be loaned to the ECHL. Murphy's not in the entry-level system (if you're curious, it's in the CBA, article 9).

Steve Gorten says Murphy won't play with the Everblades and he'll be recalled tomorrow (technically today). Because the Panthers reassigned Murphy, he has to clear re-entry waivers and if he's claimed off of re-entry, the Cats will be responsible for 50% of his contract (which isn't a very big contract).

Since his salary is less than $900k and the Panthers would still get hit for half of what he's yet to earn, I don't see this being a move driven by finances. Instead, this may have something to do with the number of contracts the Panthers have. If they can move Murphy, they give themselves more flexibility in a trade.

Which begs the question: is there a trade on the horizon?

Points All Around

Two points would have been huge for the Panthers tonight, but Antero Niittymäki had a great game and without that performance, Florida probably wins the game.

The Cats fell behind in the first period after goals from Philadelphia's Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne (PP) and despite outshooting the Flyers 15-12 in the opening frame, Florida trailed 2-0 after one. But after the Flyers got in to penalty trouble in the second and found themselves shorthanded four times in nine minutes, the Panthers managed to break through and scored twice to tie things up. Like the first period, Florida outshot Philadelphia, but unlike in the first, the deficit was much more lopsided: 13-3 for the Panthers.

There were plenty of chances at both ends all game and in the third, but this game was destined to go to a shootout, and ultimately, the two points went to Philadelphia.


Individual Stats


Up north, Rochester picked up a win for themselves and, it would seem, have good news on the injury front: Caruso's leg injury isn't as serious as initially feared, Meyer probably won't miss too much time and Neil Clark's hand isn't broken, so he played tonight.

But Clark was hardly the headline for Rochester this evening.

The Amerks have shown quite a bit of resiliency of late, and you need look no further than tonight's game to see it: Manchester scored first and took a 2-1 lead in to the first intermission before scoring less than a minute in to the second period. The momentum was all theirs, but Mike Brodeur would hold the Monarchs to three goals and allowed the offense to fight their way back in to the game.

In the first, Rochester's goal came from Janis Sprukts, and Sprukts would score his second of the game late in the second period to draw the Amerks to within one. The score held at 3-2 Manchester through the first half of the third until Sprukts scored his third of the game. After that, Shawn Matthias scored a critical goal and with the assists from Duco and Ellerby, the Amerks took a 4-3 lead with a little over six minutes to play.

Kenndal McArdle scored on the empty net and sealed the deal for Rochester, who won 5-3.

Mike Brodeur stopped 33 of 36, and defenseman Jason Garrison had four more assists tonight. Garrison was pointless in Rochester's 4-1 loss to Binghamton on Wednesday, but he scored a goal and had three assists on Sunday. His eight points in the last three games have vaulted him to ninth in the AHL for assists from a defenseman.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Peltonen Skates, Murphy Waits

Despite breaking a bone in his foot last week against Atlanta, Ville Peltonen was back on the ice today skating with the team and, better still, will play tomorrow night when the Philadelphia Flyers come in to take on the Cats at the BankAtlantic Center.

Tomas Vokoun will get the start for the Panthers and Kamil Kreps, who was a possibility to play if Peltonen could not, will be out of the lineup again and may not be ready to go yet, anyway.

As for Cory Murphy, there's nothing new. He's still with the Panthers. He hasn't been reassigned to the Amerks, nor has a trade been announced.

Rochester could use him badly, and if he's a healthy scratch tomorrow night, I have to imagine some people up north are going to be a little bit unhappy with the Panthers.

According to Democrat & Chronicle writer Kevin Oklobzija, Mike Caruso was on crutches today after blocking a shot with his shin Wednesday night against Binghamton, while Franklin MacDonald was back in Nova Scotia due to a death in the family.

As for the offense; Stefan Meyer, Riley Emmerson, Neil Clark, Dan Collins and Jacob Micflikier are all suffering from various injuries, a few of which will see players likely out for a number of weeks.

As for Panthers' injury news beyond Kreps, there is nothing of significance. Rostislav Olesz skated on the 8th and came off the ice in pain, saying, "The only thing I know is that I don't know anything," and since an MRI came back negative, "That's the frustrating part. We just don't know what's wrong with it."

The only news on Bryan Allen is that he's working out again, but according to Pete DeBoer, he's still "months" away. He's not skating, and there's no timetable at this point for a return. So basically, if he comes back this season, that's great. Just don't count on it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Prospect Updates Have Been Lacking, So..

I'm going to try to get that back as a weekly feature, but I fell so far behind that I'm thinking I'll just try to get back on it next week (with a recap of this week's performances).

So in case you missed it:

Shawn Matthias was returned to Rochester and finally had a breakthrough game, scoring two goals and adding one assist. Without him, the Amerks would not have won...

Rochester tore up Mike Brodeur's 25-game PTO and announced that Brodeur had signed a standard AHL contract that will keep him with the club for the remainder of the season. Meanwhile, as he continues to play up his appeal and Plante and Shantz downplay their own, Florida should be looking at the possibility of signing Brodeur and fitting him in to the system next year...

Cory Murphy scores six points in five games with Rochester before his conditioning assignment came to an end. He has since cleared waivers and most expect he'll be returned to Rochester indefinitely. This brings up a question about which I'd like to know the answer: when Rostislav Olesz's groin injury stops keeping him off the ice, does Florida considering loaning him out for a two-week stint? It would once again be a justifiable use of the conditioning loan, and one that could go a long way towards helping him regain some confidence. After all, Philadelphia just assigned Daniel Briere to the Phantoms for two games...

Tyler Plante and David Shantz faced off against one another in the ECHL last night. Plante stopped 32 of 35 as the Dayton Bombers rolled to a comfortable 6-3 win against Shantz and the Elmira Jackals...

On January 8, Kamloops traded RW Brady Calla to the Spokane Chiefs for another 20 year old in his final year of eligibility. He had 13 points in 19 games with Kamloops and has only played once so far with Spokane...

Defenseman Colby Robak of the Brandon Wheat Kings scored in overtime on Friday night to give Brandon their ninth win in eleven games. In that eleven game span, Brandon is 9-0-2. Robak, meanwhile, has 22 points through 36 games with some time missed due to various ailments. Should he stay healthy throughout, he's on pace for around 40 points and that would be a new career high, but he's already surpassed his WHL career high in goals, moving from 6 in 71 games last season to 7 in 36 games so far this year...

A.J. Jenks recorded the 100th point in his Plymouth career early in the month. He's the 44th player in team history to reach that milestone. But this year, Jenks' overall output is down slightly, although he's been performing well of late. After registering 55 points last year, his start to the 08-09 season left more to be desired. Fortunately, he's been picking it up...

James DeLory had become a regular fixture on John Tavares' line with the Oshawa Generals, though not so much because of DeLory's abilities as a goal-scorer or setup man, although he is capable of putting up some offense. He was there to help create space and at least in part, protect the Generals star and captain, and that's something that he did well as he moved along in his transition from defense to right wing. Then on January 8th, just three days after winning gold with Canada, Tavares was traded to the London Knights. The teams faced off against each other the next day, although neither Tavares nor Michael Del Zotto dressed for the Knights. DeLory, meanwhile, was ineligible due to a 1-game suspension for removing his helmet prior to a fight (his second suspension already in 2009) and the Knights won comfortably, 6-1.

But before the next game, DeLory was honoured by the Oshawa Generals as the team's career leader in games played (261) and it was announced that, for the remainder of the season, DeLory will serve as Oshawa's captain for all home games for the rest of the year...

Marc Cheverie, John Lee and the Denver Pioneers are #4 in the nation according to the most recent USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. Matt Rust's Michigan Wolverines are #6. Brian Foster and the UNH Wildcats have clawed their way up to #13 and Ohio State, along with freshman blueliner Matt Bartkowski, are #14...

A Swedish article surfaced yesterday that puts Jacob Markström in the same class as Swedish stars Henrik Lundqvist and Pelle Lindbergh. A goaltender that comes along every decade or so...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Peltonen Has a Broken Bone in Right Foot

From Steve Gorten of the Sun-Sentinel:
Left winger Ville Peltonen didn't practice today because of a broken bone in his right foot. It's not the same foot he broke last season that forced him to miss 24 games.

That's unfortunate for both Ville and the Panthers, but hopefully it's not too serious and will be something that doesn't keep him out for long.

Later in Gorten's entry, he writes that Kamil Kreps may be returning to the lineup Friday, so the Cats probably won't need to make any AHL callups if Peltonen will in fact miss some significant time.

Murphy Clears

Cory Murphy has cleared waivers once again, which should be great news for Amerks fans, assuming of course that the Panthers will be sending Murphy back to Rochester.

When he was waived back in October, George Richards of the Miami Herald caught up with him and later wrote this on his blog:
Caught [Murphy] coming out of the arena today [October 8], said he knows the FLA blueline is very strong and he's not upset with the Panthers for waiving him. If he is assigned to Rochester, he'll go, saying he'll continue to work his tail off in hopes of coming back.

Murphy had been logging Bouwmeester-esque ice time with Rochester and, it seems he enjoyed his brief stay with the team. He got to play every night, in a significant role, and he did well. What's not to like? So if he is reassigned, I can't see him having any problems with it, which is good news for everyone.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cory Murphy Waived

For the second time this season, the Florida Panthers have placed defenseman Cory Murphy on waivers.

Murphy just finished a five-game conditioning stint with the Rochester Americans, scoring twice and adding four assists.

If he clears, he will, in all likelihood, be extending his stay in Rochester.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Murphy, Matthias with Three Points in 6-5 Win

Shawn had a huge night tonight for the Amerks, and the team really won the game for their goaltender Mike Brodeur, who has shown signs that he is, in fact, human after all.

The first period was laden with action with Hamilton taking the lead only 1:17 in to the game. On a power play shortly before the midway point of the frame, Karl Stewart scored to tie things at 1. Three minutes later, Hamilton reclaimed the lead. But, Rochester's offense was alive tonight and they had another answer to that goal, and it came only two minutes later off the stick of Shawn Matthias. Not to be outdone in this early duel, Hamilton would score their third goal of the period with just over two minutes to play; but Rochester again fought hard and managed to pull a huge momentum swing with under twenty seconds to play in the period when Jason Garrison scored his third goal of the year (it was a power play goal and Cory Murphy picked up an assist) and his second point of the game.

Mike Brodeur faced 12 shots on the period and allowed 3 goals.

In the second, it was Shawn Matthias scoring again, this time on the power play, with another assist from Murphy. But more importantly, it was Rochester's first lead of the game. Late in the period, Murphy picked up a goal of his own, another power play point for the Amerks, and the period closed out at 5-3 Rochester.

Stefan Meyer made it 6-3 in the third and Shawn Matthias had the first assist, giving him three points on the night. That's extremely notable, because in 24 games leading up to tonight, Shawn had four points. Tonight, he showed them the kind of player that he's supposed to be.

It got tense with a pair of quick goals just past the halfway point of the third, but the Amerks held on and picked up a big 6-5 win.

Matthias was the first star with two goals and an assist, followed by Cory Murphy (one goal, two assists) and Jason Garrison (one goal, three assists).

Unfortunately for the Amerks, Murphy's conditioning stint is coming to an end and much like when Noah Welch was with the team, Rochester really benefited from their contributions. Murphy's five game stay with Rochester saw him quarterbacking the power play with a ton of poise. Despite being only 5'10", he was more than able to showcase some skill and picked up six points, two of which were goals

Cory was waived back in early October and cleared. Jacques Martin chose not to reassign Murphy, and instead he saw a handful of games with the Panthers before being injured. That's what led to justifying this conditioning stint. But Murphy, if Florida were actually to consider returning him to the Amerks, has gone well past the 30 day/10 game rule since clearing waivers and he would have to clear again in order to get reassigned. His performance with the Amerks might have a team a little more interested this time around, but it might also have earned him another shot with the Cats, and with all the questions looming about Jay Bouwmeester, I don't think they'd be too disappointed to see Murphy find the form he had in his first games with the team last year.

Shawn Matthias is Back in Rochester + Other stuff

I had to go to the AHL's transaction list to actually count how many times he's changed teams this season, and it's really not pretty, and it can't be good for his confidence. Hopefully he'll find a groove this time.

I singled out his movements from the list, so just take a look. We're halfway through the season, and this is what he's seen:

10/09/08 DOWN
-- Regular Season Begins --
10/30/08 UP
10/31/08 DOWN
11/28/08 UP
12/15/08 DOWN
12/30/08 UP
01/01/08 DOWN
01/02/09 UP
01/05/09 DOWN
01/06/09 UP
01/10/09 DOWN

So, he's back with the Amerks again, where he's struggled tremendously all year long. It's been a tough start for the 20 year old, both of his own doing and as a result of circumstance.

Rochester also signed Neil Clark to a PTO. He played in two games with the team earlier this season as the Amerks looked for an enforcer that would help to toughen up a team that sorely needed it. The stint didn't work out, and Clark eventually joined the Central Hockey League's Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs where he put up 12 goals and 8 assists through 33 games.

Last night, he played in Rochester's 4-2 loss to Binghamton, picking up an assist along with Keaton Ellerby on a Drew Larman goal. The score evened the game at 2, but the Senators added two more and put Rochester away.. Mike Brodeur stopped 42 of 46 shots.

Lastly, Jacob Markström was dressed, though he did not start, for yesterday's game against Skellefteå.

While he was away with the national team at the WJC, Brynäs' goaltending tandem had consisted of Nashville Predators' prospect Anders Lindbäck and Flyers' prospect Joacim Eriksson.

Lindbäck has been the backup to Markström this season, and while he struggled in a couple of games during this recent stretch, in the three games leading up to yesterday's match with Skellefteå, he saw an average of almost 39 shots per game. He gave up only five goals in those three games and posted a .957 save percentage.

The team's off until Thursday, when they take on MODO (Victor Hedman's team). I have no idea whether they will get Markström back in net for the game, or if Lindbäck has another start coming up. So, I'll be sure to answer that on Thursday when I post the game's result.

All three of the aforementioned Brynäs goaltenders (Markström, Lindbäck and Eriksson) are teenagers.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Good News, Everyone!

Mike Brodeur has signed a standard AHL contract with the Rochester Americans, which means the dangers of losing him when his tryout expires after 25 games are no longer a concern.

Brodeur really seems grateful for the opportunity the Amerks gave him, and he likes the team quite a bit, so it's a great story for Rochester.

The team has grown in front of him, and they're starting to win games without relying on Brodeur to steal them.

With the all-star selection and now a contract, I'd say it was a good week for Rochester and Mike Brodeur.

The Panthers are going to be giving an NHL contract some serious consideration next season if he keeps up this level of play, and with the Cats' goaltender depth (or maybe lack thereof), he may just see more opportunity and that would be all the more incentive to sign with the team.

But for now, it's Rochester for Brodeur, and yes, they won again tonight.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Michael Frolik Makes the Young Stars Game

Michael Frolik's going to be in the Young Stars Game! Frolik's been a great improvement so far this season, going from a player that looked rushed in to the league, to a player that quickly found his footing and turned himself in to a nightly threat.

With 17 points, Frolik sits just inside the top-10 in rookie scoring, but as recent play would seem to tell us, if he was NHL-ready in his very first game, he could be much closer to the top.

Frolik picked up the first point of his pro career on November 9, 2008, in his 11th NHL game. Four games later, he scored his first goal, but would stand with two points through 19 games. On November 30th, he picked up a goal and an assist and has been on fire ever since, notching 15 points - in 19 games.

The full rosters for both sides are out, so if you want to, have a look.

The game will take place on January 24, in Montreal.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Jay Bouwmeester an All-Star

For the second time in his career, Jay Bouwmeester will be playing in the NHL's annual all-star game. His 22 points is third on the team and it's good for top 20 in the league.

But, what's most impressive about his offense this season might be just how much he's kicked it in gear since getting off to a slow start -- he had three points through his first fourteen games. After that, he went on an absolute tear, picking up fifteen points in sixteen games.

Through it all, Bouwmeester has been everything the Cats could ask for defensively, and in reality, his defense alone is all-star caliber, and it's been phenonemal this season as well.

Calgary's Dion Phaneuf is the only defenseman in the league with more TOI per game than Bouwmeester at this point, and it's only an 11-second difference. Within the conference, he holds a full minute edge over Zdeno Chara in Boston.

He's been doing it for his entire career, and with remarkable consistency: coming in to tonight's game against the Carolina Hurricanes, Bouwmeester had played in 304 consecutive games. To say he's been anything less than an all-star player just wouldn't be true.

2009 NHL All-Star Rosters

The 2009 NHL All-Star Game is January 25 in Montreal.

Panthers 4 | Hurricanes 2

When's the last time Florida played against Carolina without taking a single penalty? There were only two in tonight's game and both were against the 'Canes.

One of those two power plays resulted in a Panthers' goal, with Jay Bouwmeester, Florida's all-star for the second time, putting the puck past Cam Ward to cap off an excellent setup from Stephen Weiss and Cory Stillman.

Next game: Saturday against Atlanta. 1PM.

2009 IIHF World Junior Championship

Three Panthers' prospects competed in the tournament for three different nations (USA, Sweden, Russia) with two picking up medals and one coming away with an award of his own.

The United States finished fifth in the tournament after being upset by Slovakia in the quarter final, a major disappointment for a team many expected to come away with at least a bronze medal. However, the US penalty kill was second only to Canada, and Matt Rust was a critical piece of the PK. His best offensive game came against Kazakhstan, where he scored a goal and assisted on another.

Matt RustUSA6314+21011

Russia lost a guaranteed medal after falling to Canada in overtime during the semi-final and was forced to play instead for bronze, or nothing at all. During that game, and throughout the tournament, the best Russian line was Dmitri Klopov, Nikita Klyukin and Panthers' prospect Evgeni Dadonov. For Dadonov, much like Rust, it was in his third game that he had his highest offensive output, scoring once and tallying two assists in a 5-2 win against Finland.

Evgeni DadonovRUS7257+6214

For Sweden, and despite the improbable performance of Slovakia's Jaroslav Janus (named the media all-star in goal), Jacob Markström really was the best goaltender in the tournament. Markström shut out the high-powered Russian offense and backstopped his country to the medal round, where Sweden ultimately fell to a Canadian team with so few players as yet undrafted (simply because of their age) that you could count them on one hand, with room to spare. The gold-medal game was rough for Markström in more ways than one, but it can't overshadow just how good he was throughout the tournament. Barring the emergence of a Swedish superstar in goal over the next eleven months, you will likely see Jacob back in net for Sweden at next year's WJC in Saskatchewan.

Jacob MarkströmSWE54101.61.943%1401322

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Shawn Matthias Up.. Mike Brodeur an All-Star..

Matthias was called up again. Fourth time in a week. He should be playing tonight against Toronto.

Other than that, the news is good on Mike Brodeur. While no contract has been reached, the most recent entry in Kevin Oklobzija's blog is promising.
I spoke with his agent, Craig Oster, this morning before heading to the rink and he sounded quite confident that a deal can be done. Money is not an issue, Oster said, and Brodeur isn’t even asking for an NHL contract for this season.

Oster said they are content to accept an AHL deal for the remainder of the season, then see what the future holds.

“From Mike’s perspective, his sole objective has been opportunity and he has been given that in Rochester,” Oster said. “At the end of the year, if he continues to do well, there’s no reason he’d want to go anywhere else.

“Sure, he’d like to have security (of an NHL contract) this year, but this allows him the ultimate in flexibility.”

The Panthers depth chart in goal isn’t deep when it comes to NHL talent. Brodeur can gauge his competition and knows he can be prominent in the Panthers’ future if he continues to play well.

“You can look at the depth charts of a lot of NHL teams and there may not be a lot of teams that present opportunity,” Oster said. “He has really enjoyed his time in Rochester, likes the guys there and thinks the team is headed in the right direction.”

The other tidbit about Mike Brodeur: He's playing in the AHL All-Star game this season because, yes, he really has been that good. Brodeur will be one of the two backup goaltenders for the Canadian AHL All-Star Team.

The full roster is here.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sweden Takes Silver, Markström Top Goalie

Jacob Markström, who played exceptionally well throughout the tournament, wasn't quite the same tonight in Sweden's 5-1 loss to Canada. Despite making several big saves in tonight's game, his behaviour in the beginning of the game reminded us that he's still only 18 years old.

He let his emotions get the best of him, and not always in the most noble ways. There were a couple of embellishments early that Markström made, but not to the extent criticized by the Canadian analysts, who started calling for dives on every fall. A couple of times, Markström was hit in collisions that went uncalled. Sort of a 'boy-who-cried-wolf' effect, I guess.

There was a lot of fire and passion that he showed, and maybe it was for the best. I read about a bit of a temper with Markström before, but he was very composed throughout the tournament until tonight's game.

I'm sure with more experience, he'll refine that fire.

But don't let the score fool you. Two of Canada's five goals came on the empty net, and Sweden was very much alive up to the final three minutes or so.

Named one of Sweden's three players of the game by their coaches, Markström also received the 'Top Goaltender' honours for the tournament. It's the first time a Swedish goalie has won the award since winning tournament gold in 1981 (Lars Eriksson). Teammate Erik Karlsson picked up 'Top Defenseman'.

It's the first time a Swedish player has won one of the three IIHF Directorate awards (Top Goalie, Defenseman, Forward) in any tournament since Mattias Öhlund won for defense in 1996. The last time Swedes took two of the three awards was in 1994 when Kenny Jonsson won top defenseman and Niklas Sundström won top forward.

So for now, Markström will return to Brynäs to finish the season. The team he'll return to sits in seventh with 17 games to play. In the four games played in his absense, Brynäs went 2-3, losing their first two games 5-3 and 6-4, before Lindbäck settled down and allowed only five over the next three (including a 42 save on 43 shot performance).

Next year, Jacob will be in the final year of his contract with the team, so anything can happen from there. But if he does remain in Sweden next season as expected, it would all but guarantee a return as the national team's starter for the 2010 World Junior Championships.

As for the Cats' two other juniors in the tournament, Matt Rust will return to Michigan in the CCHA. The Wolverines are #11 in the nation and they'll be getting back not just Rust, who had four points in the tournament, but Aaron Palushaj as well (five points). There, they'll look to put the disappointment of this year's tournament behind and try to win a national championship.

That leaves Evgeny Dadonov.

Dadonov had an assist in Russia's bronze-medal victory this afternoon, and that gives him seven points in seven games. He'll return to Chelyabinsk of the KHL, where he has five goals (seven points) in 28 games. It's worth noting that he is the youngest regular player on the team.

So there you have it. I'll leave the stats table up for a few days before I put it in a post and let it slide in to the archives.

To recap:

Jacob Markström wins Top Goaltender for the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Sweden wins silver, losing 5-1 to Canada.
Russia wins bronze.

As for the Panthers, Matthias is back with the Amerks -- again. He was recalled, played and then sent back only to be recalled the same day. So now, he's back with the Amerks. Yes, again. Again.

Tomorrow night, Tomas Vokoun will be starting as the Panthers take on the Maple Leafs. It's the first time Bryan McCabe will face his former team since being traded for Mike Van Ryn prior to the start of the season.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Panthers and Amerks and Juniors, Oh My

Florida's got another afternoon game today, this time in Pittsburgh, at 1PM. Stephen Weiss didn't practice yesterday due to a flu-type thing, so if he can't play, Horton will be back at center with Booth and Zednik on the wings.

Rochester played the Manitoba Moose last night and the Amerks came away with a huge 2-1 win. Mike Brodeur allowed an early goal but Stefan Meyer tied the game before the first period was over and Brodeur was lights-out for the rest of the game.

Cory Murphy, on a conditioning stint from Florida, assisted on the go-ahead power play goal in the third period.

Along with Shawn Matthias' return to the Amerks, Rochester was forced to recall Andrew Sweetland from the Florida Everblades due to injuries to Mike Duco and Riley Emmerson.

Sweetland had one assist in 21 games with Rochester before he was sent to the ECHL. There, he's played in seven games, scoring twice and assisting on two goals for four points. His AHL return was a quiet one, however.

As for Matthias, who returned to the AHL on New Year's Day, he didn't play in the game.


Last night in the WJCs, Slovakia stunned the United States, winning 5-3. The loss has eliminated the US, a medal favourite, from contention and the best that USA Hockey can hope for now is fifth place. They'll play the Czech Republic tomorrow night.

Matt Rust had four of the United States' 49 shots on goal, but came away with nothing more than a -2.

Sweden and Slovakia will kick off their semi-final matchup at 3:30 PM today. The winner will advance to the final on Monday night at 7:30 PM.

In Sweden's last game, Jacob Markström shut out the high-powered Russian offense, stopping all 31 shots he faced. Andre Petersson (OTT) scored twice and Flames' prospect Mikael Backlund had a goal and an assist against Vadim Zhelobnyuk (undrafted), statistically the second-best goaltender in the tournament.

The Swedes shut down Nikita Filatov (CBJ) who, coming in to the game, led the tournament in goals and neutralized the Russian line of Klopov - Klyukin - Dadonov, which has combined for 17 points through five games.

As for Dadonov and the Russians, their next match is Canada. The two teams have yet to face each other in the tournament, although the Russian Selects, featuring some of the same players on the national U20 team, lost 5 of 6 games in the annual Canada-Russia Challenge two months ago.

Gametime's 7:30 PM for that one.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Matthias to Rochester (Again)

Shawn Matthias was sent back to the Rochester Americans after playing against the Islanders yesterday. He had 4:14 in ice time.

By the way, Jacob Markström and Sweden shut out Russia, 5-0. 31 saves for Markström.

Quarter finals in the WJC start tomorrow. The USA will be playing Slovakia at 3:30 and Russia plays the Czech Republic at 7:30.

I've been busy again, so it's been slow. Sorry about that.