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Features

Panthers Prospects Shine At U.S. Camp

Tuesday, 08.09.2011 / 11:49 AM / Features
By Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com
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Panthers Prospects Shine At U.S. Camp
Florida Panthers prospects Vincent Trocheck and Rocco Grimaldi scored game-winning goals at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid on Monday.
Panthers prospects Rocco Grimaldi (white-R) and Vince Trocheck (blue-R) celebrate scoring game winners in their respective games at the US Development Camp.
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- In his two years as general manager of the Florida Panthers, Dale Tallon has accumulated draft picks and stockpiled talent, and a good portion of that talent was on full display Monday at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp here at the Olympic Center.

In the first international exhibition games, USA Blue topped Sweden 4-3 in overtime, while USA White beat Finland 5-3 just hours later.

The games were different, but had one common feature -- one of Tallon's future Panthers scored the winning goal.

In the early game, Vincent Trocheck, a 2011 third-round pick (No. 64), beat Sweden goalie Jonas Gustafsson with 1:02 left in the extra session. In the second game Rocco Grimaldi, a 2011 second-round pick (No. 33), scored with 3:10 left in the second period to break a 3-3 tie.

"It's a real credit to our scouting staff in the sense that not only have they recognized these players as being good players, other people have recognized them as being good players," Panthers Director of Player Development Brian Skrudland told NHL.com. "We're feeling pretty excited about our future and about where we are today with these kids and where they are today."

The Panthers have four prospects at the camp -- Trocheck, Nick Bjugstad and Connor Brickley have been with the USA Blue team, while Grimaldi has skated with USA White. The 44 U.S. players have been on split squads since arriving Saturday, but that will change Tuesday morning when the roster is trimmed to about 24 or 25 players to make one team.

Whether all four Panthers prospects are on it remains to be seen. However, they've all made strong cases.

Bjugstad, the 19th pick of the 2010 Entry Draft, was held off the score sheet the first three days of the camp, but he is the only one of the four -- and one of nine in all at the camp -- to have played on last year's World Junior Championship team, which won the bronze medal in Buffalo.

"Experience definitely helps," he told NHL.com. "Second-year players usually do better in this tournament. But I think I had a better first three days last year than this year. You never know. You've got to play like you're representing Team USA. You have to play your heart out."

Brickley and Grimaldi, who were among the final cuts from the December camp, and Trocheck, attending his first USA Hockey camp, said they're watching Bjugstad and following his lead in a lot of areas.

"I talked to Bjugstad about how tough the tournament was and he told me just stick to my game plan and play the type of role I'm here to play and hopefully there'll be a better turnout," Brickley, who also went scoreless but has been impressive on the penalty kill, told NHL.com. "Last year in the camp, I thought I was a little bit too overweight. This year I'm a little lighter and I feel a lot better on my feet. I feel faster. I'm still sticking to what's working for me and finishing my checks and being a high-energy forward. They really like when I play that role."

Grimaldi has been one of the offensive stars of the camp so far. In addition to his game-winning goal Monday, he had a goal and an assist in Sunday's intrasquad scrimmage, and his line with J.T. Miller and Shane McColgan has been among the brightest spots of the first three days of the camp.

"Grimaldi is getting a scoring chance every shift and scoring almost every third shift," said Skrudland. "He's opened up some eyes. He knows how to make himself noticeable. For his size (5-foot-6, 160 pounds), some people say that's a tough thing. Size doesn't matter with this guy. He's competitive. He's brought a skill level that is definitely needed in these types of games. And he's competitive as all heck."

"I've just got to do what makes me a good player and that's using my speed and battling in the corners and making my teammates around me better," Grimaldi told NHL.com. "Be a leader. That's what I've got to do. I've got to continue to get better. … If I can take one day at a time, continue to get better each day and continue to use my speed, I think I can make the team and be a difference."

Eventually, he and the other three players at this camp could make a difference in South Florida.

"Obviously you think about it a little bit, talk about it a little bit," Trocheck told NHL.com. "It would be a lot of fun. We're teammates here, and hopefully down the road we'll be teammates again in Florida."

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

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 63 22 16 -8 38
J. Huberdeau 60 9 27 4 36
J. Jokinen 62 6 28 0 34
A. Ekblad 63 10 23 8 33
B. Boyes 61 11 21 9 32
J. Jagr 59 12 19 -9 31
J. Hayes 54 17 10 -5 27
B. Campbell 63 3 20 3 23
A. Barkov 52 10 12 -4 22
T. Fleischmann 52 7 14 12 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 16 11 .920 2.40
A. Montoya 5 6 2 .891 2.98
 
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