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An Eye-Opening Experience

Tuesday, 07.3.2012 / 5:23 PM ET / News
By Glenn Odebralski  - FloridaPanthers.com
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An Eye-Opening Experience
Panthers prospects Vincent Trocheck and Nick Bjugstad go through a drill on Tuesday at the JetBlue Practice Facility.

Forward Drew Shore and defenseman Mike Matheson were drafted three years apart. But when it comes to this week's Development Camp, they stand on the same ground; both are rookies at Camp just taking in everything that's thrown at them.

Take Tuesday for instance.

The day started out with an on-ice session split into power skating and drills. Then the off-ice session involved a workout and a nutrition seminar. Following a rendezvous with the South Florida media, Shore, Matheson and the rest of the Panthers prospects had lunch and then a finance seminar. Following the seminar the group bussed to Whole Foods in Coral Springs for a shopping and cooking seminar as they learned about purchasing "good" foods and then preparing meals for themselves.

For those guys that haven't done anything like this before, it's a chance to learn to fend for themselves and get on the right path to becoming a professional hockey player.

"I think it's been huge from the standpoint to give these guys a base to take back with them," said San Antonio head coach Chuck Weber who is running the on-ice sessions along with Director of Player Development Brian Skrudland. "The biggest thing right now is we're trying to give them drills and skill development that they can take with them whether it's San Antonio, take back to their Junior team or their college team that they can work on and make themselves better. If they really take the onus on themselves to do that extra work then it's going to pay off as Florida Panthers later on."

With everything thrown at them over a week in South Florida, the intake can be taxing and for some it can be down right shocking to the system but it's a big plus in the prospects’ development.

"Hopefully for the guys it is," said Weber when asked if the information overload can be an eye opening experience. "So when they do turn pro, it's not as big as shock for them and they can worry about hockey.

"That's the biggest thing for this right now is to give these guys a background that when it is time for them to turn pro, they can worry about their game, they can have their life all sorted out. It's kind of the old cliché, you have to get your life sorted out before you get your game sorted out. This is going to give these guys a heads up on that and a leg up hopefully on some other guys in their development."

While it's only been two days in both Shore and Matheson have enjoyed their first taste of "pro" hockey.

"It's actually my first (camp). They didn't have one my first year and last year I had some summer school stuff but it's going great," said Shore who was drafted in the second round (40th overall) in the 2009 NHL Draft. "The last two days on the ice we have done a lot of power skating stuff and I think a lot of guys have enjoyed that and off the ice we've just learned more stuff and I've really enjoyed it."

"It's a great experience being here and being able to compete against all of the best players that are in the organization that are coming up," added Matheson, the Panthers first round pick (23rd overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft.

To say that Shore is a rookie at the pro game might be a bit misleading as the forward did spend time in San Antonio at the end of last season. After finishing up his junior season at the University of Denver, the 6-foot-3 center decided to forgo his final year and turned pro instead. There he posted three points in the final eight games and added two goals in nine playoff games, all while gaining experience.

Panthers prospects learn about the right foods to buy in a shopping seminar at Whole Foods in Coral Springs (Carly Peters)

"It was a great experience. Certainly the pro game is a lot different than the college game and the playoffs were definitely a step up from that," said Shore who recorded 53 points in 42 games to lead Denver in scoring. "It's probably the highest level of hockey I have played. I was given a lot of good opportunities and I think I did pretty well."

Shore was one of a few players to get late pro experience in San Antonio. Adding that playing time along with this week's camp is huge for those players as they prepare themselves to make the transition full time to the pro leagues.

"I think the biggest thing with all the kids that have come in, especially the ones that came in late like Drew (Shore), Alex (Petrovic) and Quinton (Howden), they see what it's like to compete against men," said Weber. "They were the big dogs from where they came from and now to be competing against 28, 29, 30-year old men I think they realize what they need to work on in their game.

"The need to get faster, need to get stronger but the biggest thing with San Antonio is it is that development for the kids. They see what pro life is like. What preparation takes day in and day out away from the rink as well as at the rink and give them those tools to allow them to become better pros quicker. All these kids are talented enough and have a bright future but it's how quickly they can embrace that and develop."

For all the prospects at this week's camp, it's all about improving in all aspects of their lives, not just on the ice. Although the on-ice product is pretty important too.

"I'm just hoping to put a good impression on the organization and Mr. Tallon and just try to come in here and work hard and show that I'm dedicated to improving in my game," said Matheson. "Show them some things that I can bring to the team in the future."

"I think the biggest thing is creating that culture of winning. Just like Dale and Kevin have done up here, you expect to win," said Weber. "That's what you want to create, that culture that you put the work in to expect to win. Winning shouldn't be an event. It should be something that is expected.

"When you put in the work, you get rewarded for those things and I think the organization at both levels, the NHL and the AHL took a huge step towards that last year."

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01
 
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