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Fleischmann's Journey Includes Masterton Nomination

Monday, 03.19.2012 / 3:49 PM ET / Features
By Alain Poupart  - NHL.com Correspondent
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Fleischmann\'s Journey Includes Masterton Nomination
Forward Tomas Fleischmann has already surpassed his previous career high of 51 points (2009-10). The Panthers forward has notched 52 points in 71 games with the club.
SUNRISE, Fla. -- There was never much doubt about Tomas Fleischmann's hockey skills. His nickname of "Flash" might have come about because of his last name, but it also applies whenever he shows off some of his deft stickhandling and playmaking ability.

Now, the only question with Fleischmann when he became a free agent this past summer was whether he'd be healthy enough to play after he was sidelined by blood-clotting issues in each of the past two seasons.

Yet, the Florida Panthers were confident enough that they signed him to a four-year, $18-million contract July 1. The move, questioned by some analysts, clearly has been a positive for a team poised to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.

Fleischmann, announced Monday as the team's nominee for the Masterton Trophy, ranks first on the Southest Division-leading Panthers with 52 points and he's tied for first with Kris Versteeg in goals with 22.

"I've had one conversation with him about (Fleischmann's medical condition) and it was at training camp and he was very matter-of-fact and comfortable with talking about it and did not foresee it as being an issue moving forward," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "There was a little bit of a leap of faith by Dale (Tallon) to show the commitment that he did, but obviously it's been well worth it."

Fleischmann returned this season after being a diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism last January, a condition that caused him to miss Colorado's final 36 games.

Before he was sidelined, Fleischmann had recorded 21 points in 22 games for the Avalanche, which had acquired him a trade from Washington in late November.

Fleischmann missed the first 10 games of the previous season (2009-10) after he developed a blood clot in his leg during a flight home to the Czech Republic the previous summer.

"When I was with him in Washington and he wasn't playing, those are serious problems," said 2010 Masterson Trophy winner Jose Theodore, who played with Fleischmann with the Capitals. "As players, we were wondering whether he'd be able to solve those. When you're talking about health issues and you're dealing with the blood and things like that, you think about his health first. I was starting to think it was taking a long time.

"After I read he went to Denver and was still having problems, you start thinking that maybe hockey is secondary and he should think about his health. To see, knock on wood, that he's healthy and he's able to perform the way he is, it's a great sign of determination."

Fleischmann said doctors told him after he had the blood clot in his leg that he might not be able to play hockey again, but tests later determined he was good to go as long as he took blood thinners.

The speedy forward said the problem last January occurred after he stopped taking the medication "because the blood looked perfect."

Now, Fleischmann is back to taking blood thinners and he also wears compression pants whenever he's on a plane.

Tomas Fleischmann
Left Wing - FLA
GOALS: 22 | ASST: 30 | PTS: 52
SOG: 189 | +/-: -7
"I knew there was no problem, that I should be playing hockey," Fleischmann said after the Panthers' practice Monday. "I was just hoping that someone would trust doctors and me. Florida did, that's why I appreciate it."

With an assist in Saturday night's 3-2 shootout victory against Buffalo, Fleischmann surpassed his career high of 51 points, set in 2009-10 when he had 23 goals and 28 assists for the Capitals.

He's been one of the most consistent offensive performers on a revamped Florida team that appears headed for its playoff appearance since 2000.

"We went through a streak where we weren't having success on the ice, but he just kept sticking out on the ice," Dineen said. "Whenever he was on the ice, he was our one guy that was still a real legitimate offensive threat. He's done a good job on that front."

Fleischmann also has been a welcome addition off the ice.

He's pretty reserved when talking to reporters, but his teammates portray him as quite the comedian.

"He's awesome," said center Shawn Matthias. "He's very likable, he's funny, I think he's from a different planet almost. He's pretty quirky. He's full of energy. He's a great teammate, he works really hard. He's in the weight room every day. He's just a hard-working guy and he deserves whatever he gets."

Said Theodore: "It's fun to see him healthy and playing. Everybody can see he's a good player. I saw him in Washington, but now that the other players, the fans and the media, everybody can see the talent this player has."

Author: Alain Poupart | NHL.com Correspondent




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

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