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A Bright Future, Today

Panthers prospects hit the ice for first day of Development Camp with spots open to make roster in October.

Monday, 07.02.2012 / 8:28 PM / News
By Glenn Odebralski  - FloridaPanthers.com
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A Bright Future, Today

There’s no way one could wipe the smile off the face of Panthers GM Dale Tallon as he stepped to the podium inside the newly named JetBlue Practice Facility at Saveology.com Iceplex (More Here) Monday to talk to the media following the conclusion of the first day of Development Camp for the Panthers prospects.

While some of the questions catered to the present tense of the team, Tallon always found a way to bring it back to the team’s youth, something that he’s quite ecstatic about.

“We’re really high on all these kids that we have,” said Tallon. “We have a tremendous group of kids here.”

And why wouldn’t Tallon be excited about the immediate and not so immediate future. The Panthers have what some say as the best Organizational Depth in terms of players on their way to the big club and 34 of those players were put through the paces in a two-hour on and off-ice session. That didn't even include former first round picks Erik Gudbranson and Quinton Howden. Gudbranson, the third overall selection in the 2010 NHL Draft who played for the Cats last season will miss this year's Development Camp with an infection. Howden, the 25th overall selection in that same draft is in camp but missed the first day with an infeciton.

The first day was mostly geared toward power skating as about two-thirds of the on-ice sessions had the players not even touching a puck.

When talking about the immediate future, Tallon figures that several of the Panthers young guns can make the jump to the pros and contribute at such an early age. While still looking to upgrade the roster through free agency and adding veterans, the Cats third year GM doesn’t want to hold back his draft picks such as Jonathan Huberdeau.

"It's a matter of what we have coming and blocking those people's opportunities to succeed," said Tallon. "There's no sense drafting all these kids and having no place for them to play. We have a plan in place to develop these young guys and we have depth in all positions and we have to open up some space for these guys when they're ready."

Huberdeau, the third overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, had a successful season with St John in the Quebec Major Junior League despite missing time due to an injury. He put up close to two points a game during the regular season and recorded five goals in six Memorial Cup games as the Sea Dogs feel to eventual winner Shawinigan in the Semifinals.

“I don’t think he can prove much more in Junior,” said Tallon. “Now is the time to get him to the next level and improve his overall strength and timing and playing with bigger, stronger men. If it he plays another year of Junior, it’s not really going to help his progress.

“He’s got a good shot at making our team. Last year he made our team but we just wanted to protect him. I think another year under his belt and he’s going to be ready to go.”

While Tallon feels that Huberdeau is as close to a lock to make the big club in the fall as there is , the silky smooth play-maker is taking a short term approach and that is to just get through Development Camp this week and make an impression.

“This year is a new season,” said Huberdeau. “There’s a lot of new players. You have to come here and make your place. It doesn’t matter what happened last year. I need to get a great start and this week is a great way to get that.”

Another prospect that is turning heads as well is 19th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft Nick Bjugstad and that’s easy to see. The center stands above all the rest. Talking to the media Monday, the 6-foot-6 University of Minnesota forward recently completed a successful sophomore season where he posted 42 points (25 goals) in 40 games to lead the Gophers to the NCAA semifinals.

“It was a little better season as opposed to my freshman year,” said Bjugstad who said he will decide following Development Camp whether he will return to Minnesota for a Junior Year or turn pro and make a push to make the Panthers this season. “It’s my second camp here so I’m trying to enjoy it.”

Both Bjugstad and Huberdeau are excited to be at another Development Camp. One of the main reasons is that they see something special going on, just like the GM that drafted them.

“The future is good. We’ve got a lot of good prospects,” said Huberdeau. “It’s a great organization.”

“A lot of good young players,” said Bjugstad. “That’s the thing about this organization. Dale Tallon has done a real good job of drafting guys and I think there’s a real bright future.”

While the prospects will be under tight yet accommodating scrutiny from the Panthers staff from Tallon, head coach Kevin Dineen, Director of Player Development Brian Skrudland and recently named Manager of Player Development Brian McCabe (More Here) among others, everyone knows that the future is bright, starting with this week of workouts on and off the ice.

“We’ve got so many good ones that are here that are going to be battling for positions ,” said Skrudland. “Obviously they’re not all going to be Panthers, I think they’re aware of that, yet at the same time, they’re here and competition is live and well.”

“It's exciting as hell,” said Tallon. “This is what it's all about. I'm really pumped about our future.

“We had a great year last year but our future looks even better and that's what I'm excited about.”

The Panthers will hold three more sessions with practice coming between 9-11am on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

SCHEDULE

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 49 14 32 3 92 174 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 46 16 13 -1 29
A. Ekblad 46 7 21 6 28
J. Huberdeau 43 9 17 1 26
J. Jokinen 45 4 21 -3 25
B. Boyes 44 10 12 2 22
J. Hayes 38 13 7 0 20
S. Bergenheim 35 8 9 1 17
A. Barkov 35 5 10 -5 15
B. Campbell 46 3 11 -1 14
D. Kulikov 41 1 13 -4 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 18 11 8 .920 2.42
A. Montoya 3 4 2 .891 2.96
 
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