San Antonio Rampage Re-Sign C Wade Megan and F Tony Turgeon

Today the San Antonio Rampage announced the re-signing of C Wade Megan and F Tony Turgeon. Each of the young forwards signed one-year AHL deals.

Megan, 24 was a key player during his college days at Boston University where he posted 83 points (49-34-83) for the Terriers in 151 career games. Taken in the fifth round (138th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers, Megan spent four seasons at the college level before signing an ATO with the Rampage in 2012-13.  Last season, Megan played his first full professional year of hockey splitting time between the Rampage and the Panthers’ ECHL affiliate, the Cincinnati Cyclones. The 6’1″, 190 lb, centerman played in 43 games for San Antonio notching 17 points (11-6-17) and was a big part of the Cyclones run to the Kelly Cup finals where he posted 13 points (10-3-13) in 22 postseason games.

Turgeon, 24 is an intimidator with his 6’4″, 220 lb frame. Known more for his rough-and-tumble style and physical presence, Turgeon played three seasons at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and posted 169 PIMs in 62 games. The undrafted UN-O defenseman made the transition to forward as he played in his first pro season in 2013-14 with both the Rampage and the Cyclones. Turgeon played 5 games for San Antonio posting 21 PIMs and 13 games for Cincinnati, posting two points (0-2-2) and 59 PIMs.

 

Follow Mike  on Twitter @MikeLewy11

For All Your Florida Panthers’ Updates Follow Panther Parkway on Facebook

Follow Panther Parkway on Instagram @ PantherParkway

Tom Rowe to Return as Rampage Head Coach

The Florida Panthers announced today that Tom Rowe, will return as the head coach for the Florida PanthersAHL affiliate San Antonio Rampage for the 2014-15 season.

Rowe  became the head coach of the Rampage on Nov. 8, 2013 when bench boss, Peter Horachek was abruptly called to duty as head coach of the Panthers replacing former coach, Kevin Dineen. Coaching a group of youngsters in San Antonio, the Rampage went 26-31-3-5 under Rowe. The team showed promise as they jumped into the playoff race in Feb. when they went on a 7-2-0-1 tear and set a new franchise record for road trip success in the process.

Rowe, 58 most notably took over coaching duties for Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the KHL in 2012 (leading the team to a 34-18-0 record) and was also an assistant coach for the 2008-09 Carolina Hurricanes  under current Nashville Predators coach, Peter Laviolette. The Hurricanes reached the Eastern Conference finals that season fighting through the New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins in the process in two back-to-back seven game series.

Joining Rowe behind the bench is Scott Allen. Allen, has history with San Antonio as he was a part of the coaching staff during their inaugural season. Allen, 48 spent two years with the Rampage (2002-04) and helped San Antonio reach their first playoff berth. Allen has journeyed through the AHL as an assistant coach for several teams and spent four years as an assistant coach for the New York Islanders (2009-12).

Allen and Rowe are no strangers to one another. Allen served as an assistant coach to Rowe during his time as coaching the Lowell Lock Monsters during the 2004-05 season.

In a release, courtesy of FloridaPanthers.com, Panthers GM, Dale Tallon spoke about the hiring,

“We are pleased to have Tom and Scott behind the bench leading our prospects in San Antonio next season,” said Tallon. “Both Tom and Scott have worked together before and we are confident that they will create a winning and positive culture for our prospects to grow and develop.”

With a team next year that is built around youth, these two veteran coaches will bring a wealth of experience at all levels of professional hockey to help mold them into a team that will not only look to compete for a Calder Cup as soon as possible but to create a cohesive unit for the future of the Panthers as well.

 

Follow Mike  on Twitter @MikeLewy11

For All Your Florida Panthers’ Updates Follow Panther Parkway on Facebook

Follow Panther Parkway on Instagram @ PantherParkway

Ice Bucket Challenge: The Florida Panthers Get Icy

For weeks now, people from all over have been shoveling chunks of ice into buckets, mixing it with water, pouring it on their heads, and then posting it on their respective social media sites. Just recently players, broadcasters, main stream media, and bloggers from around the NHL have joined the craze. No, they aren’t crazy.  They are raising awareness for Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS. The rules are simple: Poor ice water on your head, capture it on video, and then challenge someone else. Chain chain chain.

A few members of the Florida Panthers have joined in on the action:

Shawn Thornton

Vincent Trocheck

Scottie Upshall

Billy Lindsay
Aaron Ekblad

Erik Gudbranson

Jayce Hawryluk

Joe Wegwerth

Quinton Howden
Nick Bjugstad

Sasha Barkov

Florida Panthers Staff

A few members of the Panther Parkway family even accepted the challenge!
Paige Lewis
Mike Obrand

We welcome your comments and feedback!

Follow Paige on Twitter @PaigeLewisFL

For All Your Florida Panthers’ Updates Follow Panther Parkway on Facebook

Follow Panther Parkway on Instagram @ PantherParkway

 

Denis Potvin Returns as Panthers’ Color Analyst, Bill Lindsay Shifts To New Role

Who says you can never go home again?

Fox Sports Florida underwent a roster shake up this morning to their Florida Panthers’ broadcast crew by announcing the return of former Panthers color analyst Denis Potvin to their crew.

Potvin has spent the past four seasons with Rogers Sportnet providing color commentary for the Senators after his departure from the Panthers in 2009.

Panthers President and CEO Rory Babich had this to say: “We are pleased to welcome Denis back to the broadcast booth for the Florida Panthers. With an exciting season on the ice right around the corner, the addition of Denis, a hockey legend with long-term ties to the organization, to the existing broadcast team of Steve, Billy and Drew promises to provide an enhanced experience for our TV viewers with one of the premier broadcast teams in the NHL.”

“Billy” AKA Bill Lindsay will be shifting to a pre-game, post-game and interview analytic role with FOX Sports alongside Drew Goldfarb.

One key aspect to the Potvin hire is highlighted by Brett Opdyke, the executive producer of FOX Sports Florida: “It also allows us to showcase Bill’s analyst skills on our Panthers LIVE! shows, and gives our broadcasts the added bonus of a second analyst “between the benches” on marquee games.”

This will no doubt be a welcome addition for Panthers fans.

Regardless of the outcome of the 2014-2015 season, we know that the ones under the sun will be covered from top to bottom.

Tallon uses myriad of methods to build rising D corps

There is an old NHL proverb passed down from generation to generation that dictates the winning formula for a team to embrace and thereby succeed: “Build from the back out.”

It is this mantra that hints at stabilizing your core from the defensive side out when trying to build a winning team that can keep winning for years on end.

Dale Tallon inherited a limping roster when he was hired and has gone through the process to turn it into one of the most promising, young and dynamic groups in the National Hockey League. He stabilized his net when he realized Jacob Markstrom was not cut for full-time duty and is now in the midst of cementing his D corps that will hopefully lead to real success in the short and long-term.

Dale Tallon’s defensive rebuild conforms to many rebuilds we’ve seen in the league over the years with one notable exception. He has used key draft picks to select core players, traded for young undervalued players from other organizations and signed complimentary pieces via free agency. Despite taking the beaten path in those regards there, is one piece that he added that did not conform to the traditional rebuild schematic. The piece that I am referring to is Dale Tallon’s long con….but we’ll get to that.

When you look at the Panthers’ potential defense for the upcoming season you see the results of the aforementioned beaten path which Tallon walked with great effectiveness.

The Key Draft Picks

Dmitry Kulikov, drafted 14th overall in 2009, 99 points in 313 games played after making the team directly out of camp after his draft. The Panthers committed to Kulikov long-term and clearly see him as an integral part of their defensive system.

Kulikov ate minutes for the Panthers finishing 2nd on the team in terms of total minutes played and was deployed almost with complete neutrality between the offensive and defensive zone last season, meaning that the coaching staff believed in him in both offensive and defensive situations.

Within the last two years Kulikov has been on the upward swing possession-wise and has had a positive impact on his team’s performance while on the ice.

Next up: Erik Gudbranson, the Panthers’ esteemed 3rd overall selection from the 2010 entry draft. Erik was thrown into the fire as Kulikov was and has been through the struggles that one would expect a young defenseman to go through while playing in the NHL as an under-20 year old. While Gudbranson’s skill set is elite and the talent is obvious, he is only beginning to carve his niche on the ice as was evident at times last season. Regardless of the past, the future is bright for the likely captain of the Panthers and a serious jump (and I mean serious) in possession metrics suggests that he is coming into his own as planned. At 22 and with the best surrounding cast since his debut, Gudbranson is primed for another season of improvement.

Then there’s the 6’3 216 lbs colt in the room, Aaron Ekblad. The Panthers invested heavily in the defenseman in June and undoubtedly plan to make him a part of their core for as long as they can (aka his entire career). Ekblad’s elite talent is undeniable and his ability to transition that from the junior game to the NHL is obviously paramount for the Panthers’ success in any realm. It’s a risk to select a defenseman first overall due to their slow development and potential for failure but the Panthers clearly thought that he was worth the risk so he will have to make it worth their while.

The undervalued trade target

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure has never been truer when it comes to Dylan Olsen (and his fellow former Blackhawk Jimmy Hayes). Chicago deemed Olsen (and Hayes) expendable to regain the services of Kris Versteeg and I believe I would be hard pressed to find someone who thinks the Panthers got the worse end of the deal from a player perspective. Olsen went from a fringe NHLer in Chicago’s system to a mainstay blue-liner in Florida and managed to put up positive possession numbers for the first time in his career with a weaker line up supporting him. Olsen is poised to keep his spot on the blue line out of training camp and cement his spot in the NHL as a valuable top six defender.

The complimentary free agent

Any good GM knows that free agency is for filling out the roster, not building it. When Dale Tallon went on a spending spree in 2011 he picked up players to fill the roster while his prospects were gaining experience in the minor league and junior ranks. That spree pushed the Panthers into the playoffs but that clearly did not equate to long-term success. Tallon’s youth is finally maturing and he is now at a stage where he can use free agency to go after players he deems suitable for his squad.

Enter Willie Mitchell. Mitchell is the kind of player that GMs love. He’s a winner at all levels winning an ECAC title with Clarkson University, a IIHF World Championship gold medal and of course the two Stanley Cups with the LA Kings in 2012 and 2014. He is a 12 year NHL vet who has made a positive impact on every team he has played for. He is a leader who leads by example and is not afraid to put his body on the line as is evident by his team-leading 128 blocked shots last year. To impress you more, even with Mitchell’s high blocked shot totals he is still a fantastic possession player who creates more positive possession events than he gives up and considering he blocked 128 shots last season that is a lot of positive possession events.

Mitchell will bring a sense of stability to the Panthers defense this season. He will be a solid veteran presence to the young guns both on and off the ice and of course will be relied upon heavily by the coaching staff in key situations when needed.

The long con

Finally, we get to Brian Campbell.

When Brian Campbell was traded to the Florida Panthers on June 25th 2011 the narrative was that of “A cap dump by Chicago to rid themselves of a shell of a player that they thought they were getting to a team he won’t succeed with.”

Not exactly a rousing endorsement for the Panthers, but after finishing last in the Eastern Conference and missing the playoffs for the 10th straight year the pundits didn’t have to be generous to the team in Sunrise. From the Panthers’ perspective it was more than a cap relief favor to the GM’s previous employer, it was the start of the locomotive that was and is Dale Tallon’s rebuild of the Florida Panthers.

NHL GMs think that far ahead and that’s what Dale Tallon was doing when he traded for Campbell. He acquired a piece that would help the team in the short-term and one that would evolve into the cornerstone of his defensive corps in the long-term.

Tallon took it on the chin when he traded for Campbell but he is only reaping the benefits of acquiring a premiere all-around defenseman who can, has and will do it all for the Panthers.

Let’s talk leadership. Brian Campbell epitomizes the word.

I don’t just mean that he is a “leader,” of course he’s a leader. He’s a 35 year old decade plus player with 838 games under his belt. He’s a Stanley Cup Champion, has been a Captain, an alternate captain and is a poised and professional person who deals with fans and media with aplomb. His career speaks for itself in terms of intangibles but I want to talk about the aspects of his game that makes him the cornerstone of the team.

When I said leader I meant “leader” as in team leader in 5 on 5 ice time since he was traded to the Panthers. In fact he led by 288, 220 and 281 minutes within the past 3 seasons, which is insane. He has either led or finished 2nd in shots taken by a defenseman since his Panthers debut and has been among the team leaders (and led in 13-14) in blocked shots. He finished 2nd, 1st and 1st since the 11-12 season in takeaways by a Panthers defenseman. To top it all off, since 2011-2012 Campbell has led all Panthers’ D in points.

Beyond these stats, his possession numbers are exceptional.

He boasts a 52.1% Corsi For Percentage which means that when Campbell is on the ice 52.1% of the total shot attempts are going towards the opposing team’s net. To give you a comparison, that is 38th best among defenseman after the 13-14 season and best on the Panthers by 1.5%, which is astounding. Campbell literally drives possession forward for the Panthers better than any other D by a significant margin.

In terms of Fenwick (shots directed toward the net that aren’t blocked) Campbell clocked a 52.5%, 1% better than the closest Panthers D and good for 39th in the league.

These numbers are even more impressive when you take into account that Campbell played the 3rd most 5 on 5 minutes out of any defenseman in the NHL. To add to his impressive resume his 5 on 5 Zone Start Ratio is 50.8% meaning that he was nearly evenly distributed between the offensive and defensive zone which alludes to my “all-around player” label.

What impresses me most about Campbell’s metrics are his Relative Corsi and Fenwick numbers. He is a +3.0% 5 on 5 Corsi and Fenwick player which means that the team is much better (3% better) at possession when he is part of the 5 man on-ice unit. That is, again, a full percent higher than the next Panthers D which means he is better at making the team better than any other defenseman on the team.

With skating that cuts the ice like a knife does warm butter, a hard and accurate shot with a quick release, a premiere first pass and exceptional defensive skills, Brian Campbell is the whole package for the Panthers. He is the unequivocal cornerstone of a defensive group that has been carefully constructed and perfected over the years. Campbell was brought in with the knowledge that he would one day be this player for the team. He knows what it means to be a Panther, he wears an A and is a strong candidate to wear the C and has been through the absolute worst the franchise has seen. With the team ready to rise up from the bowels of the NHL, Brian Campbell is at the helm.

With less than two months until opening night, the current blue-line for the Panthers is shaping up to be one of the most talented defensive corps the franchise has seen in a long time.

REPORT: Juho Lammikko to leave Finland, play in the OHL

It has been reported that Juho Lammikko, a Finnish prospect of the Florida Panthers, will leave his team in the Finnish Liiga and join the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL.

A 3rd round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft (via trade), Lammikko has decided to join the North American ranks for the 2014-2015 season, where he could potentially play with this year’s 3rd overall pick, Sam Bennett.

Lammikko, 18, is a power-forward who has spent his career playing for his native country, Finland. Before joining the the Finnish Liiga, Lammikko tallied an impressive 103 points with a U-16 Jr. C division, and 53 points the following season with the U-18 Jr. B league. Always playing above his age group, Lammikko joined the U-20 Jr. A SM-Liiga team at just 17 years old, recording 42 points (17G-25A) in just 37 games.

Following the 2014-2015 season, Lammikko will likely return to Finland, where he will re-join the Finnish Elite League, and play with Assat full-time, until he feels he’s ready to make the jump to the NHL, where he could join the Panthers.

 

We welcome your comments and feedback!

 

Follow Paige on Twitter @PaigeLewisFL

For All Your Florida Panthers’ Updates Follow Panther Parkway on Facebook

Follow Panther Parkway on Instagram @ PantherParkway

Ekblad Leaves Team Canada Development Camp With Concussion

There were rumblings of Aaron Ekblad sustaining an injury earlier this week and they came to fruition this morning when Team Canada released the news that the 2014 1st overall selection suffered a concussion.

The Panthers’ first selection at the 2014 draft was participating in Team Canada’s  annual Summer Development Camp, a tune up camp to perform preliminary evaluations for this winter’s World Junior Hockey Championships in Montreal and Toronto.

 

Ekblad has been sent home from the camp but is expected to make a full recovery by Panthers’ training camp which is good news for Panthers fans who are hoping to get a good look at their potential star D-man.

Panthers GM Dale Tallon had this to say: “We have been in communication with Team Canada and have mutually agreed to hold Aaron out for the remainder of the summer development camp, as a precautionary measure,”

While the language here is not as concerning as it can be, concussions are always a sensitive topic and the team and Ekblad himself should approach this setback at a snail’s pace.

“We will closely monitor Aaron’s health for the remainder of the offseason and expect him to be ready for our rookie camp in mid-September.” Tallon added.

It seems like the right steps will be taken to assure a full recovery.

Shawn Thornton: “I never thought I’d play in the NHL, let alone win a Cup.”

On July, 1 2014 F Shawn Thornton shipped out of Boston and set his sights on South Florida, signing a two-year, $2.4 million contract. Thornton has been a well-known enforcer within the NHL for over a decade and has not only a wealth of experience that he’s gained through the years, but two Stanley Cup rings to boot. The 6’2″ 217 lb, bruiser spent seven seasons with the Boston Bruins and his leadership and hard work on and off the ice, as well as his intimidation factor were revered in the city of Boston.

Like in the summer of 2011, Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon swam a couple of  laps in the Free Agency pool looking for the right pieces to the Florida puzzle during this summer, and made a splash signing six new players, including Thornton. A familiar face for Tallon, Thornton was a part of the Chicago Blackhawks during Tallon’s tenure in the Windy City. Looking for experience and toughness on a young Panthers team, Thornton and Tallon working out a deal seemed like a no-brainer.

“Florida was my first choice.” said Thornton, “I like where the team is going. He (Tallon) was talking about the moves he was going to make in the offseason. I obviously know Dale from Chicago. (We) Love the area. I’ve already been down a couple of times checking it out with the wife, and we’re really excited to be a part of it.”

Thornton, 37 is an elder statesman on a Panthers team whose core players are just reaching, or are barely at legal drinking age yet. The veteran winger knows his role within the team and sees the talent that this team possesses, some of whom he’s taken notice of since playing against them in the past.

“The skill level is obviously second to none. I was actually asking Tuukka (Rask) about (Aleksander) Barkov last year because I didn’t know much about him, but playing against him you definitely notice him. Playing against (Erik) Gudbranson the last couple years, he was extremely hard to play against. I knew every time I went into the corner there was going to be a rough one coming out. These guys are starting to come into their own, their young kids are starting to play the game the right way.”

A humble man, Thornton looks to be an approachable member of the team for the young guys, willing to instill his wisdom whenever need be.

“I never thought I’d play in the NHL, let alone win a Cup. I’m very fortunate where my career has taken me. (Willie) Mitchell and (Dave) Bolland have both won twice. We aren’t going to come into the locker room and say ‘this is how I did it’, ‘this is how I did it’ and ‘this is how I did it’. Kids ask questions, and they’d like to know what it’s about and some things that I may have picked up along the way. Any type of advice and experience I am more than happy to share.”

Off the ice, Thornton created the Shawn Thornton Foundation . Started up in 2013, Thornton’s foundation is dedicated to helping find cures for Parkinson’s disease and cancer. A proponent of a strong community presence, Thornton looks forward to getting involved in South Florida as he has done in the past with his previous teams.

“Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve always tried to embrace the community. I think you get a better feel for people in the area when you’re out and about doing most things. I think we’re very, very fortunate to do what we do for a living. To take an hour out of our day a few times a month to put some smiles on faces is the least we can do.”

The enforcer from Oshawa, Ontario will be continuing his offseason training with a trip on Tuesday to Los Angeles, California where he will work with legendary Boxing Trainer, Freddie Roach. A Six-time Boxing Trainer of the year, Roach has worked with countless boxers including Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins and Miguel Cotto as well as several Mixed Martial Artists including Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre, Tito Ortiz and Jose Aldo.

Although seen as a fighter on the ice, Thornton isn’t training for just fighting, but for the conditioning aspect that Roach instills in his program. Thornton views fights on the ice versus the ring as “a different animal”.

Thornton will bring a much-needed edge to the Panthers this season, and with his willingness to drop the gloves with anyone brave enough to return the favor, he could be a fan favorite in Sunrise just as he was in Boston.

 

 

 

Panthers avoid arbitration, re-sign RFA Jimmy Hayes

On Tuesday morning, the Florida Panthers avoided arbitration and announced the re-signing of RFA Jimmy Hayes to a one-year deal.

Hayes, 24, appeared in 53 games with the Panthers last season after being dealt to Florida from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Kris Versteeg. He recorded 18 points (11-7-18) during his first season as a member of the Panthers.

The 6’6, 221 lb winger is a native of Boston, Massachusettes and was drafted by Chicago in the second-round of the 2008 entry draft. The big power winger has played 96 career NHL games, registering 31 points (17-14-31), 34 PIMs, a 13.5 shooting percentage, and 176 hits.

 We welcome your comments and feedback!

Follow Paige on Twitter @PaigeLewisFL

For All Your Florida Panthers’ Updates Follow Panther Parkway on Facebook

Follow Panther Parkway on Instagram @ PantherParkway

 

 

Panther Parkway Radio: Ekblad, Prospects, Free Agency, Gallant & Playoffs

Tune in to tonight’s show where we discuss the biggest NHL & Florida Panthers news of the week! By the way, this podcast is terrible.

Host: Paige Lewis

Guests: Jameson Cooper, Mike Lewis, and Mike Obrand

Topics

  • Aaron Ekblad and Development Camp
  • Who impressed the most in Development camp?
  • How did the Panthers do in Free Agency?
  • Panthers made 6 Free Agent signings.
  • Playoffs? PLAYOFFS?
  • Jimmy Hayes going to arbitration
  • This show is terrible.

New Episode Here

We welcome your comments and feedback!

Follow Paige on Twitter @PaigeLewisFL

For All Your Florida Panthers’ Updates Follow Panther Parkway on Facebook

Follow Panther Parkway on Instagram @ PantherParkway

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,373 other followers

%d bloggers like this: