Thursday, April 30, 2009

Richard Zednik Signs in Russia

Richard Zednik is leaving the NHL and heading to Russia. The Panthers' UFA forward signed a two-year contract with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl today.

Zednik signed a two-year deal with the Panthers prior to the 2007-08 season that was worth $3.25M (1.5, 1.75). He played in 54 games before the skate-to-neck sidelined him for the season. He scored 15 goals and added 11 assists in those 54 games, but had just started to get hot at the time - even picking up a hat trick against Toronto five days before the injury.

This season, in 70 games, Zednik scored 17 goals. Two of those goals made the highlight reels, first against Carey Price on January 29th and then against the Islanders' Joey MacDonald on Feburary 5th. As a Panther, he will finish up with 32 goals, 27 assists and 59 points in 124 games.

In his NHL career, the 33-year-old Slovakian has played in 745 games with the Capitals, Canadiens, Islanders and Panthers, amassing 200 goals and 379 overall points. In the 1997-98 season - his first full NHL season - Zednik had 10 points in 17 playoff games with Washington, making it to the Stanley Cup Final before being swept out by Detroit.

I'm not sure Zednik was in the Panthers' plans for next season, but I am a little surprised that he left so quickly and chose to pass on NHL free agency.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hockey's Future: Panthers' 2008-09 Rookie Review

Hockey's Future has put up their review of the four Panthers' rookies that saw NHL ice this past season.

Michael Frolik, Shawn Matthias, Kenndal McArdle and Jason Garrison each get mentioned to varying degrees.

Monday, April 27, 2009

USA, Latvia & Czech Republic Win

Latvia defeated Sweden for the first time in their history today by a 3-2 final. The two teams have faced each other eleven times in the past, and Sweden won 10, and the two clubs played to a draw one time. But today, the Latvians won in a shootout.

Karlis Skrastins, the Latvian captain, was even in plus/minus with two shots and no points, while Janis Sprukts went without points and shots.

Latvia's goaltender, Edgars Masalskis, stopped 38 of 40 Swedish shots.

The United States and the Czech Republic both won today, as well. For the U.S., defenseman Keith Ballard had one assist and for the Czech Republic, Rostislav Olesz had a helper of his own.

The U.S.A. rolled over Austria, 6-1 and the Czechs beat Norway, 5-2.

In the little bit of the Czech/Norway game that I was able to watch, Olesz looked pretty good, and his assist was nicely done. Protecting the puck while off to the side of the Norwegian net, he started back out, saw teammate Miroslav Blatak coming down center and fed a short pass to Blatak which promptly entered the net. The goal gave the Czech Republic a 4-1 lead.

Panthers Merger Looming

From Sports Business Journal --
The Florida Panthers are in negotiations to merge the team, its arena management company and rights to the real estate surrounding BankAtlantic Center with Sports Properties Acquisition Corp., a public-stock company formed last year, sources said.

The potential deal values the assets at $230 million, including debt, with the plum in the talks a planned mixed-use development around the south Florida arena, the sources said. The negotiations have been taking place over the last several weeks, the sources said.

As part of the prospective deal, the sources said, the Panthers’ owners would receive stock in Sports Properties, making the hockey team a unit of the public company. Ironically, the team under former owner Wayne Huizenga was also publicly held before he sold it in 2001 to current general partner Alan Cohen for $101 million.

Tony Tavares, who managed the move of the Montreal Expos to Washington, where the club became the Nationals, is the Sports Properties CEO. Board members include 1996 vice presidential candidate and current chairman of USA Football Jack Kemp, as well as baseball hall of famer Hank Aaron.

The Panthers have struggled in the tepid south Florida sports market, failing to reach the postseason since 2000 and last winning a playoff game in 1997. Their attendance ranked 24th out of 30 NHL teams in this past regular season at 15,622 per game, far below the league average of 17,460 despite a 1.2 percent increase from 2007-08.

However, Sunrise Sports books more than 200 events a year for the arena, including Panthers games, and Pollstar, a music industry publication, named the venue last year one of its top eight as part of its Arena of the Year award.

The ownership and management of the company are expected to remain after a merger.

That's not the entire article, though. I've condensed it a bit. The whole thing in its entirety is here.

By the way, this doesn't mean they're moving or anything like that. It could actually give the team some more financial stability, which I'm sure we'd all embrace.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

All but Frolik Play

Both Karlis Skrastins and Janis Sprukts were a +1 today when Latvia took on the United States, with Skrastins serving as captain and Sprukts registering an assist, but the Latvian team fell to the U.S.A. by a final score of 4-2. Keith Ballard had two shots and was a -1 for the Americans.

Next up for the U.S. is Austria on Monday, while Latvia gets Sweden - also on Monday.

The Czech Republic defeated Denmark earlier today, 5-0. For the Panthers, however, only Rostislav Olesz was in the line-up. Playing on the fourth line, Olesz had one shot on goal. They face Norway on Monday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

2009 IIHF World Championship

Five Panthers players will be representing their countries in Switzerland at this year's IIHF World Championship.

Michael Frolik, Rostislav Olesz, Keith Ballard, Karlis Skrastins and Janis Sprukts will all be playing for their respective nations when the tournament kicks off on Friday.

Like with the World Junior Championsip in January, I'll keep their stats up at the top of the page.

Janis Sprukts will be playing for the Latvian national team for the sixth time in his career. He's played in 31 WC games, scoring two goals and assisting on six others. Along with his eight points, the center has six penalty minutes and no medals to his credit.

Also playing for Latvia, defenseman Karlis Skrastins will make his first appearance on the national team since playing in the Olympics in 2006. Prior to that, he last dressed in a world championship in 2005. He has played in 46 WC games and he has 27 points (13G, 14A). Way back in 1994, Skrastins had three goals and five assists in seven games, and in 2003, three goals and three assists in six games.

Keith Ballard has appeared in two WCs in his career, and this will be his third. He has five assists in twelve career games, along with a hard-to-notice 32 penalty minutes. He played in '07 and in '08, but in both seasons, the United States failed to medal.

This is Rostislav Olesz's second appearance on the men's national team for the World Championships, although he also played for the Czech Republic in the 2006 Winter Olympics. In 2007, his lone WC to date, Olesz scored two goals and had five points in seven games, but the Czechs finished seventh that year.

Last, but not least: Michael Frolik. Frolik will be joining Olesz on the Czech men's team, and this is the rookie's first WC. It will not, however, be the first time he gets to play on a team with Czech legend Jaromir Jagr. The two played together briefly for HC Kladno during what was the NHL lockout. At the time, Frolik was only 16 years old. When Jagr first played for Kladno, he too was only 16. The experience should be phenomenal for the Panthers' top prospect.

Then there are the players that aren't playing. David Booth would have seemed a definite to play for the United States, but along with Craig Anderson, Booth declined the invitation. Understandably apprehensive to risk injury without a contract next season, but very unfortunate that that's the reason he chose not to play.

Jay Bouwmeester is not on Canada's team and even if Stephen Weiss received an invite, he has a bad wrist and wouldn't be playing anyway.

Richard Zednik turned down an invite to play with Slovakia and Ville Peltonen can not play for Finland due to a hand injury.

Frolik, Olesz to Play for the Czech Republic

According to, Michael Frolik and Rostislav Olesz will be playing for the Czech national team in the upcoming World Championship. The other NHLers on the Czech team are Ales Hemsky, Ales Kotalik (both from the Edmonton Oilers) and Marek Zidlicky (Minnesota), and they'll be joined, of course, by Jaromir Jagr. Tomas Vokoun won't be playing. All 26 players can be found at or the IIHF website.

Recently, Craig Anderson and David Booth turned down invitations to play the U.S. team, both citing their lack of contracts next season and Anderson also acknowledging a desire to rest for a bit, but Keith Ballard will be playing for the American team when the tournament begins later this week

Meanwhile, Jacob Markström, who played for the Swedish national team during their exhibition games as other players finished their pro seasons, was removed from Sweden's preliminary roster earlier this month. The three Swedish goaltenders are Stefan Liv, Johan Holmqvist and Jonas Gustavsson.

Further solidifying the belief that Jacob Markström will be leaving Sweden after this upcoming season was Brynäs's recent acquisition of 21-year-old goaltender Eddie Läck from Leksand.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Markström Will Play in Sweden Next Season

With Craig Anderson a UFA and seeking a starter's job, all kinds of scenarios fly around, but it looks like one - people expecting to sign Swedish goalie Jacob Markström, to back up Vokoun - can be put to bed.

It was only a small paragraph towards the bottom of an article about Tomas Vokoun, but here's Jacques Martin's quote from the story:
He has another year on his contract. That’s great development for him. It’s equivalent if not better than the American Hockey League (AHL). At only 19, I’m OK with that. Hopefully, at the end of next year, we’ll get him under contract and it will be up to him, his performance, to dictate whether he’s ready to play here or whether he needs more time in the (AHL).

A day before the regular season ended, I was anxious to find some content to fill the off-season, but the reality set in and it was a bit deflating, so I've just been looking for work and watching the playoffs.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Peltonen, Dvorak and Skrastins Want to Stay

Earlier today, George Richards caught up with Ville Peltonen and Radek Dvorak and both players said that they want to play with the Panthers again next season. Both are unrestricted free agents this summer, so that may or may not happen.

The roster as it appears today includes nine forwards already under contract next season: Gregory Campbell, Michael Frolik, Nathan Horton, Kamil Kreps, Brett McLean, Rostislav Olesz, Cory Stillman, Nick Tarnasky, Stephen Weiss

Three forwards are unrestricted: Radek Dvorak, Ville Peltonen, Richard Zednik

Two forwards are restricted: David Booth, Anthony Stewart

You have to assume David Booth is the first priority to get signed, so unless the Panthers are preparing for a busy offseason, I'm not sure they really can sign both of them back. Otherwise, we're looking at the same offense next season that was scoring one goal here, two goals there and getting shut out everywhere else down the stretch.

Steve Gorten adds defenseman Karlis Skrastins to that list of players that want to return, and of the three, Skrastins might be the most important. His shot-blocking and all-around consistent defense was a huge asset this season and it would be nice to have that again next year.

Over the summer, I'll be tinkering with this some more so that I can make it a deeper and more resourceful page come next season, but I'll also be keeping an eye out for anything interesting about the team.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Bittersweet Win for the Panthers

Eighty games to their credit and the goal of making the postseason hinged on Florida winning tonight. Sure, they could have lost in overtime and won on Saturday and still had a chance, but the reality is that Florida needed to win.

And they did. But as the clock hit zero in Atlanta, up in New York, the Rangers were holding off the Flyers in the final minute of play. To get in, the Panthers needed a win and New York or Montreal had to lose, or at most, get one point.

New York's win clinched their playoff berth and the focus shifted to the Bruins/Canadiens game, which was, if you look with impartiality to Florida's situation, a great game. The Bruins held a 3-1 lead early, but the Habs stormed back and took a 4-3 lead for themselves. Boston tied the game up and all anyone could do was hope the Bruins could score in regulation to keep Florida's hopes alive, but as time wound down, reality set in - Florida's missed the playoffs once again.

For those keeping score, the Bruins did win that game, in overtime.

When you add it all up, the answer is the same as it was last season, the year before that and before that through to the turn of the century. For some players - and likely fans - it will be the end of their days with the Panthers. For others, just another disappointment softened by the thought that next year will be better.

You'll get such a wide array of answers on this season, depending on who you ask, but whether the tone is optimistic or downright angry, most are justifiable. After all, it's been eight full seasons now since south Florida last saw playoff hockey. If you're counting years, it's nine. Nine years ago, people worried about the Y2K bug. Stephen Weiss, now 26 years old, was a rookie in the Ontario Hockey League. Minnesota and Columbus hadn't yet entered the league. Columbus, who hadn't made the playoffs in their history, put that to bed by clinching a spot in the playoffs this season - and good for them. Fans of both teams know all too well what the feeling has been for so long.

Still, Florida took another small step forward this season. Those words have, understandably, lost their meaning to many, however. We've taken steps forward every year since 2000, all the way to 91 points and a chance for 93. If someone told you last September that Florida would have 91 points, would you have believed it?

The last time Florida had 90+ points, they made the playoffs (1999-2000). For only the third time in franchise history, the Cats have won 40 games. 227 goals through 81 games is the sixth highest total in team history and the 227 goals against is currently fifth fewest in team history. Stephen Weiss, a fan favourite and potential team captain someday has had a career year and with two more assists tonight, he's one point away from 60. David Booth's go-ahead goal in the third gives him 29 goals, and Florida's second round pick from 2004 (53rd overall) now has 55 points, up considerably from his breakout season last year. Nathan Horton's point totals were down, although he missed significant time due to injury and also had to move back to center. If he can find consistency, Horton will be just fine as well.

Take a look at Michael Frolik's rookie campaign and you'll have something to smile about. 20 goals and 21 assists and if you watched the games, you could easily see that there is much more to his game that experience will bring about.

McCabe has been a treat, Ballard was a great presence on the ice and he always knew when a timely hit was necessary, Campbell had a career year and we got a glimpse of the future when Michal Repik scored in his NHL debut and then again later in the year. We saw Jason Garrison, an excellent college signing, turn pro in a strong way with Rochester with 34 points so far and he showed great poise in his lone game with Florida early in the season.

Florida's goaltenders are #2 and #3 in the NHL in save percentage, and Jacob Markström led Sweden to the WJC final, winning top goalie honours for the tournament.

And then there's rookie coach Peter DeBoer. Until Florida fell out of contention, DeBoer was getting more than his share of praises during Jack Adams discussions (coach of the year).

Along the way, there have been some bumps and bruises, but DeBoer has been another bright spot in a season that may ultimately be considered little more than another early summer for the Panthers.

There were disappointments on the year, no doubt. The Jay Bouwmeester ordeal lingered throughout the season and not trading the defenseman at the deadline will be a decision that, looking back, will probably do more harm than good knowing now that Florida still didn't make the playoffs, but at the time, it was a risk they were willing to take.

Rostislav Olesz had a dismal season that was hampered once again by injuries, although if he can stay healthy from the outset next year and play the way he did to end this season, he's going to make his contract a non-issue. Of course, that's an "if" for a reason.

In the end, Florida is out and no matter how many positives you dig up, it stings.

Duffy to the Everblades

After playing in seven games with the Amerks, Matt Duffy has been sent to the ECHL to play some more hockey this season with the Florida Everblades.

Duffy, a 23-year-old defenseman, joined Rochester on an amateur tryout after finishing his collegiate career with the Maine Black Bears.

In his seven games with Rochester, Duffy scored twice and added four assists. He also played in two games with the Everblades last month before joining the Amerks.

Florida won 49 games this season and led the league with 103 points, and starting tomorrow night, the 'Blades will take on the Gwinnett Gladiators in the opening round of the Kelly Cup playoffs.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Today's Press Conference

The streams at both and cut out quite a bit, so I couldn't get much out of it. But, I did my best.

Rochester's owner, Curt Styres, spoke only briefly, thanking the fans, players, coaching staff and families for the season, along with the goal of making the playoffs. He mentioned that there were discussions throughout the season with Florida, and that was that.

Jacques Martin, who arrived late, spoke much more in-depth and said a lot of what the fans would have wanted to hear. Whether it will come to fruition or not, we'll see soon enough.

JM emphasized that a winning environment is important in the development of young players and that there is a good working relationship between the two clubs.

He then moved on to discuss a bit of what the plan was for this past season, starting with goaltenders. The two sides knew that goaltending was important, and so they made a commitment to a goaltender. Without naming names, however, Jacques' thoughts on the subject included, "It didn't pay off," and "We were disappointed in the goaltending."

Beckford-Tseu, if you didn't know, was signed to a TWO year deal last summer. Before he was relegated to the ECHL, he went 3-14-1 with Rochester. His GAA was 3.96 and his save percentage, a stellar .868.

There was no mention of Beckford-Tseu's future, however. There wouldn't have been, anyway. The season isn't over and CBT is back with the team due to injuries to Plante and Brodeur. His future with the team may have been foreshadowed when Martin twice mentioned that the commitment to a goalie in the off-season didn't pay off.

The Steve MacIntyre ordeal was brought up by the Cats' general manager and he said that the plans for next season will include another physical presence, but that, as was said back when Florida lost MacIntyre to Edmonton via waiver claim (Mac's played 20 NHL games this season) there just wasn't anything they could do. He signed with an NHL club and had to clear to go to the AHL. He didn't.

Around December, Martin said that the parties met and also brought in, "a kid from the East Coast league," as a goaltender. That kid, of course, is Mike Brodeur. Things started to turn around after that and it was acknowledged by the GM.

He mentioned that a few weeks ago, "Curt (Styres - owner), Lewis (Staats - president), Jody (Gage - Amerks' GM)" and the Florida staff, "had a meeting to really put in place a plan that would help us develop a winning team and help us be a more successful team."

So next year's plan? It includes such things as signing Mike Brodeur; veterans, veterans and more veterans, and it will also see the Amerks' ownership opening up their checkbook wide to help Florida bring in those players.

Here are a few of the quotes that I was able to get in between freezes, crashes and silence. Each is from Jacques Martin.

"We're trying to make sure we get the goaltending resolved for next season. We have people in place that will be able to do the job. . . Goaltending shouldn't be an issue. I thought Mr. Brodeur did a good job and our plan is to get him under contract next year for this organization."

"We need to acquire more veteran players. That's not an easy task. Sometimes players have options with another organization, or a lot of players may opt to go to Europe. Our scouting staff has been identifying players that we feel will be able to help us next year. We've made a list of players. We feel we need to bring maybe four veteran forwards to fill in our top six forwards."

"We had some disappoitnment with some of our younger players. We've got four excellent young prospects on defense - Ellerby, Garrison, Henry, Caruso. We feel they're all individuals that will eventually play at the NHL level and we feel that they're on the right track."

"As for forwards, certain players didn't meet our expectations. When we looked at our roster, we're probably looking at acquiring four forwards that could play in our top six and another forward and defenseman that we could call veteran players or role players."

"The one thing that we realize this year is that we need to have more veterans in our lineup."

"Another area we feel will help is to expand our training camp. We will get to see more players that are playing in the East Coast league and get a better knowledge of the players that we could call up and fill those roles (after injuries)."

So, there you have it. Signing Brodeur, four veteran forwards, a veteran defenseman, returning coaching staff, an enforcer and Styres will be spending more money to make sure these things happen.

Panthers 1 | Flyers 2: Can Florida Still Get In? (Yes)

Florida's playoff hopes were dealt a serious blow tonight as the Cats lost to Philadelphia while the Rangers overcame the Canadiens and pulled back to two points ahead of the Panthers - with two games to play.

It's worth noting that the Panthers played a good game, they simply could not finish on their chances. Vokoun allowed a soft goal to give the Flyers the lead, but he said something about Craig Anderson after the 3-1 loss to Atlanta that is no less true tonight:
Andy didn't deserve to come out. We didn't score any goals and we lost.

He let in a goal that he will desperately want back, but he also kept quite a few out and as has been true of the Panthers' inconsistent offense this season, the goalies will either get a ton of help from the offense, or none at all.

No matter what, the Panthers have dug themselves quite a hole here. So, cross your fingers.

This next bit might not read clearly. In looking back at it now, having typed it up a minute ago, I noticed that I started to simply type stream of thought. But, I tried to keep it clear. (I added colours so now it looks a little less cluttered. If the record is in red, Florida can't catch the team. If it's green, there is a possibility.)

Anyway, it's just a quick overview of the best-case scenarios for getting the Cats in to the playoffs, based on each possible outcome for the Rangers and Canadiens on the schedule.

New York's maximum point total (based on two remaining games): 95
Florida's maximum point total (based on two remaining games): 93

New York (Current: 91)

2-0-0: (95 points) Florida can not catch.
1-0-1: (94 points) Florida can not catch.
1-1-0: (93 points) Even going 2-0, Florida would have 41 wins to New York's 42. No good.
0-0-2: (93 points) Florida has to win both games. Both teams have 41 wins in this scenario, forcing a second tiebreaker (season series). Florida won the series 3-0-1. Florida passes New York.
0-1-1: (92 points) Florida has to win both games, finishing one point ahead of New York.
0-2-0: (91 points) Florida has to pick up a minimum of three points (2-0-0, 1-0-1). One regulation loss (1-1-0, 0-1-1) and New York is in.

So to summarize, Florida can not lose in regulation and while they really should be focusing on winning both games, they also have to win at least one and must pick up at least one point in the other game.

Montreal's maximum point total (based on two remaining games): 96
Florida's maximum point total (based on two remaining games): 93

Montreal (Current: 92)

2-0-0: (96 points) Florida can't catch.
1-0-1: (95 points) Florida can't catch.
1-1-0: (94 points) Florida can't catch.
0-0-2: (94 points) Florida can't catch.
0-1-1: (93 points) Even if Florida won both games, both teams would have 41 wins and 93 points. Montreal won the season series, 2-1-1. Florida would not make it.
0-2-0: (92 points) Florida must win both games. Three points would result in a tie and Montreal would win through tiebreaker. Only a 2-0-0 record gets Florida in, in this scenario.

What if Montreal and New York both went 0-2-0 and Florida won out?

Well, then Florida would be the seventh seed, the Canadiens would be eighth and the Rangers would be out. The Cats would face the Washington Capitals in the first round.

There's still hope, albeit slim, for the Panthers to break through and get in there, so as hard as it may be, don't write these guys off just yet.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tomorrow's Jacques Martin/Curt Stryes Press Conference

I wrote yesterday that this was going to be carried live at the Amerks' website. It may still be, but you'll definitely be able to find it at The meeting, which will outline plans for next season's Amerks roster, is scheduled to start at 12:30 PM. The D&C will start the stream a few minutes prior.

I'm hoping to some extent, the discussion will lend some insight in to the objectives for the Panthers, but even if it doesn't, as long as my internet doesn't randomly get disconnected or the house burns down, I'll be sure to write down what I can. And whatever I may miss, I'm sure that it will be covered at and Kevin O's blog.

P.S. Luke Beaverson has been recalled by the Panthers and is headed back up north to Rochester.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Karl Stewart Leaving Rochester, Amerks' Presser & More

Strike one for next year's veterans in Rochester.

Karl Stewart, the 25-year old forward that joined the Amerks after the season started and provided a little bit of experience and stability on a team that sorely needed it, will not be returning to the team next season, whether an offer was in his future or not.

Not that he wouldn't have stayed had a deal been offered, but a contract was offered from Germany's Straubing Tigers and Stewart accepted, telling the D&C's Kevin Oklobzija, "What I went through last summer was what I'd call hockey-player hell. I had no NHL offers, no real tryouts, and no American League offers. I was training day in and day out and not knowing if I was going to be playing hockey or going back to school. I didn’t want to put myself through that again."

So that's a tough blow. Stewart is tied for the team lead in goals (18) and whether that's a bleak total for your scoring leader or not (Repik and Meyer both have 18 goals as well), he was certainly valuable to the team.

Stewart will finish up the season before moving on to Germany, so it's one more spot that will have to be filled this off-season.

Which leads me to the next tidbit:

Jacques Martin and Amerks' owner, Curt Styres, will be holding a press conference on Wednesday afternoon at 12:30 to discuss next season's roster and team make-up. I don't know if they'll be answering any questions from some of the fans in attendance that will undoubtedly have some critical points to make, but it appears as though the PC will be shown live on the team's website:

Among the points outlined, the promise that goaltending will not be an issue next season. Of course, this leads to all kinds of questions. Are they comfortable with Plante/Shantz? Is Brodeur getting a contract? What of Beckford-Tseu's second year? Did he become Superman overnight?

Maybe the most curious question that may arise there, "Is Florida going to pursue Jacob Markström?"

When Anders Lindbäck (Nashville prospect) wrapped up his season, he had a 2.57 GAA and a .916% in 24 games. The first thing I thought was, "Maybe they're going to try to convince Markström that he won't have to battle for that starter's role if he comes to Rochester," but I looked a little further and saw that Lindbäck left Brynäs late last month and has since signed a contract with Timrå, a club that has wanted the goaltender for a while now.

I'm pretty sure I've read that Brynäs had a third young goaltender with good upside, but with Lindbäck out of the picture, the starter's job is (I'm assuming, here) once again, Markström's to lose, so I'm not getting my hopes up, there.

If you're wondering what Jacob's up to these days and you've recently seen Linus Omark's nifty shootout goal against Switzerland, then you now know what Markström has been up to - he's with the Swedish national team as they prepare for the 2009 IIHF World Championship that begins later this month.

As for the current goaltenders with the Amerks, Miguel Beaudry, the goalie brought over from the Central Hockey League to back up David Shantz, has been released. Mike Brodeur isn't ready to go, and although Tyler Plante's visit with Panthers' doctors turned up nothing serious, Chris Beckford-Tseu will be back with the club for the rest of the season - which ends this weekend with three games in four nights.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Zednik Nominated for the Masterton

One player from each team can be nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, and for the Florida Panthers, to no surprise, the nomination goes to Richard Zednik.

The award is given out annually to the player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey." Bouncing right back from a life-threatening injury is impressive enough. Coming back to have the season he's had - 17 goals and 15 assists, the most points he's had since the lockout - is even more amazing.

There's a much longer article about the nomination at the Panthers' site. Check it out, if you'd like.

Quite a few players deserve strong consideration for the award this season. Without a doubt, Richard Zednik is among them. I'd think that, in no particular order and with Zednik included, Patrice Bergeron, Teppo Numminen and Steve Sullivan would garner the most attention. Kurtis Foster, who hasn't officially been nominated yet as Minnesota's candidate, will likely receive some consideration as well after recovering from a broken femur suffered in a game last season.

The Northwest division selections will be announced today and the Pacific will be on Monday.

Plante Done + Brodeur Out = Beckford-Tseu? No.

Goaltender Mike Brodeur is still nursing an abdominal injury and while he practiced with Rochester on Thursday, he will not be playing tomorrow night when the Amers host the Binghamton Senators for the final time this season. At the same time, Tyler Plante is meeting with doctors here in Florida to get to the bottom of a shoulder injury that has seemingly resurfaced this season. Last year, Plante underwent surgery for his shoulder as well.

So with those two out and Shantz still with the club, someone has to be the backup, and it won't be Chris Beckford-Tseu. Instead, the Amerks are bringing in a goaltender from the Central Hockey League: Miguel Beaudry. But, as Kevin O writes, it doesn't necessarily mean that Florida and Rochester simply wish to cut ties with CBT. Sure, they may, but he makes some solid points about why Beckford-Tseu will be staying in the ECHL at this point in time:
The CHL regular season is over, so bringing in Beaudry didn’t disrupt anyone else’s season. He’s only coming here because he might be needed as a backup. It wouldn’t be right for a going-nowhere AHL can’t inconvenience a team from another league (even if Phoenix is out of the playoffs) just because it needs a backup goalie.

As for the aforementioned 'Beaudry', the goaltender coming in is Miguel Beaudry of the CHL's newest expansion team, Rapid City Rush. Beaudry was never drafted by an NHL club and after his OHL career had ended, he signed with the New Mexico Scorpions of the CHL. Now a month shy of his 26th birthday, he's been there ever since.

Yet one can't help but wonder if Beckford-Tseu would have been recalled, anyway. He's had a very tough season and after going from the AHL to the ECHL, his numbers have actually gotten worse. In ten games with the ECHL's Phoenix Roadrunners, the 24-year-old goalie has posted a 2-7-1 record with a GAA of 5.00 and an .862 save percentage.

In other news, the Carolina Hurricanes scored twice in twenty-eight seconds in the third period tonight to knock the Rangers off in regulation. Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens picked up a big win against the Islanders and have vaulted themselves ahead of the Blueshirts. Now, in a perfect world, Florida's game in hand on the Rangers could potentially serve to level the playing field tomorrow night and knot the Cats and Rangers up at 89 points apiece, but the Thrashers are no pushovers, especially with the way they've been playing lately.