Florida Panthers Win 2014 NHL Draft Lottery

Things may finally be looking up for the Florida Panthers as the team won the NHL’s annual draft lottery on Tuesday night.

By winning Tuesday’s lottery, Florida erases the bad memory of missing out on last year’s 1st overall selection, even after finishing with the worst record in the NHL.

This was the third time in franchise history that the ping-pong balls bounced favorably and the Panthers won the annual lottery. In both 2002 and 2003, Florida traded its top pick for the third overall selection.

With just an 18.8% chance of winning, Florida jumped over Buffalo (25% chance), much like Colorado had done to the Panthers just a year ago.

This year will mark the fourth time in the past five seasons that the Panthers have had a top-three pick. Selecting Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Erik Gudbranson in the previous three. Given their history of trading the overall top pick, the Panthers haven’t actually picked first since taking current team captain Ed Jovanovski in 1994.

Void of a consensus number one pick in this year’s draft, the Panthers may once again look to move their pick as it seems quality players will be available throughout the majority of the first round.

However, if the team does decide to hold onto their pick, players such as D Aaron Ekblad, F Sam Reinhart and F Sam Bennett are thought to be this year’s top talent.

The 2014 NHL Entry Draft will be held on June 27–28, 2014 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Drew Shore, Vincent Trocheck and Jimmy Hayes named to Team USA’s 2014 IIHF World Championship Roster

On the eve of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, USA Hockey announced today the first 15 players of the 2014 U.S. Men’s National Team that will compete at the IIHF’s Men’s World Championship May 9-25 in Minsk, Belarus. 

As of right now, representing the Florida Panthers at this year’s tournament will be forwards Drew Shore, Jimmy Hayes and Vincent Trocheck.

No strangers to international competition, all three players have competed for Team USA at some point in their careers.

Their international experience is as follows:

Jimmy Hayes 

U.S. National Junior Team (2009)
U.S. Men’s National Under-18 Team (2007)

Vincent Trocheck

U.S. National Junior Team (2013)

Drew Shore

U.S. National Junior Team (2011)
U.S. Men’s National Under-18 Team (2009)

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Panthers Kickoff 2014 Offseason With Draft Lottery Tuesday

Just days after the final game of the 2013-14 regular season, the Florida Panthers are set to begin their first offseason under new ownership headed by Vincent Viola. Though the team hopes to solve most of their roster problems in free agency, the first important event of the 2014 offseason kicks off tomorrow night with the annual NHL Draft Lottery.

Set to begin at 8 p.m., ET, the Panthers will have an 18.8% chance at winning this year’s top pick after finishing 29th in the NHL with a final record of 29-45-8.

Given that no team can slide more than one spot back of their finishing position, the Panthers are guaranteed at least a top-three pick in this year’s draft regardless of what luck they may or may not have tomorrow night.

The chance to win this year’s first-overall selection for every lottery team is as follows:

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Nick Bjugstad on The Verge of Making Panthers History

SUNRISE, Fla — Just one game remaining in the Florida Panthers 2013-14 season and rookie center Nick Bjugstad has a chance to make history.

With 81 games already in the books, Bjugstad currently sits atop the Panthers’ scoring list with 38 (16-22-38) total points. If he can manage to hold onto this lead with just one more game to play, he will become the fist Panthers’ rookie to ever win the team’s scoring title.

Bjugstad entered Thursday night’s game against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs in the midst of a four-game scoring drought, but still just two points behind Scottie Upshall’s team-leading 37 points.

After notching one assist through the first two periods, Bjugstad netted his first goal since March 1 on a beautiful wrap-around that squeaked past Maple Leafs’ goaltender Drew Macintyre at 3:23 of the third period.

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Panther Parkway Post-Game: Panthers vs. Flyers

Stars of the game

1st: Claude Giroux (2-0-2)

2nd: Vincent Lecavalier (1-1-2)

3rd: Jonathan Huberdeau (1-0-1)

Goals (Flyers 5, Panthers 2)

PHI: Vincent Lecavalier (20)  Assist: Adam Hall

PHI: Claude Giroux (26) Assists: Nicklas Grossman, Luke Schenn

PHI: Claude Giroux (27) Assists: Mark Streit, Scott Hartnell

PHI: Sean Couturier (11) Assists: Braydon Coburn, Matt Read

FLA: Erik Gudbranson (3) Assists: Scottie Upshall, Vincent Trocheck

FLA: Jonathan Huberdeau (9) Assists: Drew Shore, Colby Robak

PHI: Tye McGinn (4) Assists: Vincent Lecavalier, Adam Hall

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Brandon Pirri: “I have a role on this team”

In the midst of yet another rebuild, the Florida Panthers will certainly have a lot of question marks to address this offseason. Rookie center Brandon Pirri isn’t one of them.

Acquired in a pre-deadline deal with the Chicago Blackhawks on March 2, Pirri, 22, has quickly become one of the Panthers’ most reliable and productive forwards on a team that has been bereft of offense for the majority of the season.

“It’s been good. The transition has been easy,” Pirri said of his first month in Florida. “Very comfortable, great locker room here.”

In 46 games split between Chicago and Florida, Pirri has tallied 23 points (12-11-23), placing him 25th in the NHL among rookies while playing in significantly fewer games than those ahead of him.

Brandon Pirri ( Kelsey Hinds @Kelsey1344 )

Brandon Pirri ( Kelsey Hinds @Kelsey1344 )

Additionally, since the trade deadline, Pirri’s performance has actually been on par with some of the biggest names that changed uniforms roughly one month ago.

With a post-deadline point total of 12 (6-6-12), Pirri has been producing around the same rate as Matt Moulson (10), Thomas Vanek (14) and Marion Gaborik (11). And unlike the three aforementioned forwards, Pirri has been doing the majority of his damage from the third line.

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Luongo Returns to Panthers in 2-1 Loss to Flames

After suffering a mild-concussion on March 27th against the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo finally reclaimed his spot between the pipes as the team kicked off their season ending homestand against the Calgary Flames on Friday night.

During his three game absence, the Panthers struggled to keep opponent’s scoring low, allowing 14 total goals as veteran backups Scott Clemmensen and Dan Ellis tried to hold down the fort.

Competing in his 800th career NHL game, Luongo admittedly showed signs of rust as the Panthers fell to the Flames by a final score of 2-1.

“I think I felt a hair off as far as my game is concerned,” Luongo said. “I only had one practice and jumped right into the game. It’ll get better as the next couple days go by.”

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Panthers Recall F Bobby Butler and D Jonathan Racine

The wave of call-ups continues for the Florida Panthers as Executive Vice President and General Manager Dale Tallon announced today that F Bobby Butler and D Jonathan Racine have been recalled from the San Antonio Rampage (AHL).

Butler, 26, has played in 128 career National Hockey League games with Ottawa (2009-12), New Jersey (2013) and Nashville (2013), recording 48 points (20-28-48) while trying to find a foothold in the NHL. Though he didn’t make the Panthers’ roster out of training camp, Butler has shined as one of the Rampage’s best and most reliable players this season, recording 45 points (21-24-45) and 12 penalty minutes.

Racine, 20, has appeared in 48 games for San Antonio this season, collecting six points (0-6-6) and 85 penalty minutes as one of the team’s top enforcers.

A former third-round pick (87th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Racine will hope to make his NHL debut tonight against the New York Islanders at 7:00 p.m. on FOX Sports Florida.

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Panther Parkway Post-Game: Panthers vs. Devils

Stars of the game

1st: Travis Zajac (3G-1A-4P)

2nd: Jaromir Jagr (1G-3A-4P)

3rd: Ryan Clowe (1G-2A-3P)

Goals (Devils 6, Panthers 3)

NJ: Travis Zajac (14) Assists: Jaromir Jagr, Mark Fayne

NJ: Jaromir Jagr (24) Assist: Ryan Clowe

NJ: Travis Zajac (15) (Power Play) Assists: Ryan Clowe, Eric Gelinas

FLA: Dmitry Kulikov (8) (Shorthanded) Assist: Nick Bjugstad

FLA: Brad Boyes (20) Assist: Nick Bjugstad 

NJ: Ryan Clowe (7) Assists: Travis Zajac, Jaromir Jagr

FLA: Brandon Pirri (10) Assists: Dylan Olsen, Vincent Trocheck

NJ: Jacob Josefson (1) (Shorthanded) Assist: Ryan Carter

NJ: Travis Zajac (16) Assists: Tuomo Ruutu, Jaromir Jagr

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Four Panthers Prospects Punch Their Tickets to the 2014 Frozen Four

After a wild weekend that even college basketball fans would admit was ripe with madness, a whopping four Florida Panthers prospects remain in play as the NCAA D-1 Men’s Hockey Tournament field shrank from 16 to four teams this past weekend.

Of the original eight “College Cats” that qualified for this year’s tournament, just Rocco Grimaldi (North Dakota), Ian McCoshen (Boston College), Mike Matheson (Boston College) and Kyle Rau (Minnesota) remain with a chance to take home college hockey’s top-prize.

First to punch a ticket to Philadelphia was North Dakota forward Rocco Grimaldi whose hat-trick against top-seeded Wisconsin helped UND cruise to victory in the tournament’s opening round. Though they are recognized as one of the most prominent programs in collegiate hockey, Grimaldi’s opening round heroics may have helped North Dakota rediscover their swagger after having snuck into this year’s tournament as a #4 seed.

In the round of eight, UND forward Connor Gaarder scored off a rebound just 1: 28 into double overtime to give North Dakota a 2-1 victory over Ferris State, propelling the team to their 20th Frozen Four in school history.

Though his stick was silent during the team’s second game, Grimaldi’s inspired play through the first two rounds of the tournament earned him MVP honors as the top-player from the Midwest Region.

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