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Gilbert Looking To Earn A Spot

Veteran defenseman in camp on a PTO.

Saturday, 09.21.2013 / 2:00 PM ET / News
By Glenn Odebralski  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Gilbert Looking To Earn A Spot

All the media attention went to goaltender Tim Thomas on Tuesday, but he wasn't the only player the Panthers brought in on a PTO that day.

Flying under the radar, Florida also added veteran defenseman Tom Gilbert to the mix along the blue line. It was a different experience for the former Edmonton and Minnesota defenseman, having to wait for a chance with an NHL team after being bought out on July 4 by the Wild. A late arrival to camp, Gilbert's goals are pretty simple.

"Come here and work hard. Earn a spot on the team. That's the main goal," said Gilbert following the Panthers pre-season game against the Stars in San Antonio. "It's a little tougher trying to come in half way through camp but things have been going good. Like I said, come in and just work hard."

Playing in his first game in a Panther uniform Friday night, Gilbert scored the lone goal in the Panthers 4-1 loss, played a ton of minutes and in all situations. He was paired with former Lady Byng winner Brian Campbell on the night. First impressions made, head coach Kevin Dineen was impressed.

"I liked his game (tonight). He was one guy that (could) walk away feeling, not the one guy, but he had a solid game," said Dineen. "I thought he was comfortable playing with Brian Campbell. He showed some strong poise out there so I think that was a good first showing for him."

Gilbert on the other hand had a different take on his game.

"It was alright," said Gilbert of seeing his first action of the season. "Being in the game, you actually have the energy and adrenaline rush. It was good at the beginning and then the legs kind of died as the game went through. But that's why you play with Campbell. Just get him the puck and he just skates up the ice."

The Bloomington, MN native has played in 447 career NHL games and can provide offense from the back end, having posted 176 points (36-140-176). He posted 13 goals and 33 points in 2007-08 and then a career-high 40 assists and 45 points a year later.

Panthers GM Dale Tallon brought Gilbert, along with veterans Brad Boyes and Thomas in to compete for roster spots and despite not currently having a contract, Gilbert knows that competition makes everyone better.

"It's good to have that competitiveness in the locker room. It pushes guys to take their game to a new level," said Gilbert. "The situation I'm in, for me I'm just coming in and I'm just working hard. Pretending like it's scratch again and just earn your spot on the team."

Standing at 6-2 and 204 lbs, the 30-year old has played the first seven years of his NHL career in the Western Conference. If he's able to earn a contract with the Panthers, that will obviously change. Playing in the Eastern Conference would be something that Gilbert would embrace.

"I wish I knew more. Most of the time you see highlights on TV," said Gilbert on what he knows about the Eastern Conference teams and players. "The unfortunate part of two different conferences but you know the guys that are on each team. You see the kind of offense that Eastern Conference throws out there and it doesn't matter where you're playing.

"It's always challenging. It's actually kind of refreshing sometimes to see a new look on teams."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 74 46 20 8 195 162 100
2 NYR 72 46 19 7 219 167 99
3 TBL 74 46 21 7 242 191 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 72 39 21 12 208 195 90
7 WSH 73 39 24 10 212 180 88
8 OTT 72 37 24 11 212 190 85
9 BOS 73 36 25 12 193 190 84
10 FLA 73 33 26 14 180 201 80
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 73 31 31 11 164 186 73
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 74 27 41 6 193 237 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 70 12 32 5 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jokinen 72 7 33 -1 40
J. Jagr 68 13 24 -6 37
B. Boyes 71 12 23 9 35
A. Ekblad 72 11 24 8 35
J. Hayes 63 18 13 -4 31
A. Barkov 62 12 15 -4 27
B. Campbell 73 3 20 -1 23
B. Pirri 40 18 2 4 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 25 17 11 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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