Florida Panthers Facebook Florida Panthers Twitter Florida Panthers Google+ Florida Panthers Pintrest Florida Panthers Instagram Florida Panthers
 
 
  • PRINT
  • RSS

Signing Is Just One Step For Gudbranson

Friday, 07.15.2011 / 7:48 PM ET / News
By Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com
X
Share with your Friends


Signing Is Just One Step For Gudbranson
GUDBRANSON SIGNING

OTHER LINKS:
Tallon On Signing
Gudbranson On First Day Of Development Camp
Official Signing Release

On his way to becoming the third pick -- and first defenseman taken -- at the 2010 Entry Draft, Erik Gudbranson also was excelling off the ice, winning the Canadian Hockey League academic player of the year award last year.

That knowledge helped Gudbranson understand that as nice as it was to sign his entry-level contract with the Florida Panthers on Friday, it's just one step in reaching his ultimate goal -- playing in the National Hockey League.

"The way I'm looking at it now is it's a big achievement but a little step," Gudbranson said. "It's a big team to make. It's the National Hockey League, the toughest League in the world. I'm going to work my tail off to be here next year and make a difference on the team."

While some believed Gudbranson could have played in the NHL last season, he never came to terms on a deal with the Panthers and instead went back to his junior team, the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League. There he had a stellar season, with 12 goals, 22 assists and 105 penalty minutes, all numbers better than the previous season, when he had 2 goals, 23 points and 68 penalty minutes in a season that was limited to 41 games due to injury and illness.

The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder also had 5 points in seven games in helping Canada win a silver medal at the 2011 World Junior Championship.

"He's a better player," Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon said when asked about Gudbranson's growth since last year. "He's more mature … We're delighted. We're excited. He's the real deal. He's a big part of the puzzle.

"He's a world-class kid. You know he's going to do everything in his power to get to the next level. I've seen more maturity, I've seen him stronger. I've seen him carrying a leadership role moving forward. He just has that presence."

Gudbranson was one of three picks the Panthers had in the first round of last year's draft, Tallon's first with the franchise. After Gudbranson, the team picked center Nick Bjugstad at No. 19 and center Quinton Howden at No. 25. All three were in attendance at the team's prospect development camp, which ended Friday.

"They are ready to make the next step," Panthers Director of Amateur Scouting Scott Luce told the Miami Herald. "I think there is no question that you look at those three selections as a turning point in our organization. In five years from now, I hope we're all looking back saying that was the first piece of the puzzle that Dale Tallon was able to get."

"I'm going to try to be the best defenseman out there and show everyone I can make the team, that I can play in this League. And not only play, but make a difference. That's what I want to do this year. I want to be here full-time and be a difference maker on the ice." - Erik Gudbranson
Gudbranson may be the biggest piece of that puzzle, but it doesn't mean he has a guaranteed spot with the Panthers this season. During Tallon's massive offseason roster overhaul, he added veterans Brian Campbell and Ed Jovanovski to the blue line. They join a group that includes talented 20-year-old Dmitry Kulikov, 2007 first-round pick Keaton Ellerby and solid veterans Mike Weaver and Jason Garrison.

"Everybody's got to earn the right to play for the Florida Panthers," said Tallon. "Now the competitive level is raised. He's going to have to earn that spot. It's probably harder to make it this year than last year because we have more depth at all positions. I'm confident he will give it his best shot. If not … this is a growing process, a learning process. I'm hopeful he makes the team, but it won't be devastating if he doesn't, because we have lots of assets. We have to patient. We can't jump into forcing young people into the lineup just because they were the third pick in the draft. We have to make sure they're ready to perform at the NHL level."

Gudbranson said he's ready to raise the curtain on his NHL career. And while making the team is his first goal, he said he has loftier aspirations.

"I'm just going to come (to training camp) and be as confident as possible," he said. "I'm going to be respectful to all the veterans, but at the same time I'm going to try to be the best defenseman out there and show everyone I can make the team, that I can play in this League. And not only play, but make a difference. That's what I want to do this year. I want to be here full-time and be a difference maker on the ice."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
5 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
11 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
12 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 52 17 23 14 40
J. Huberdeau 55 11 29 12 40
J. Jokinen 55 11 27 12 38
V. Trocheck 55 17 18 3 35
A. Barkov 43 16 19 13 35
R. Smith 55 18 16 12 34
B. Pirri 51 11 13 -3 24
A. Ekblad 51 11 13 19 24
B. Campbell 55 5 18 20 23
N. Bjugstad 40 9 10 -3 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 24 13 5 .927 2.23
A. Montoya 8 4 1 .926 2.06

 
FloridaPanthers.com is the official Web site of the Florida Panthers. Florida Panthers and floridapanthers.com are trademarks of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks and NHL Draft name and logo are trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2016 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.