Panthers Re-Sign RFA Dylan Olsen

On Monday afternoon, the Florida Panthers announced the re-signing of RFA Dylan Olsen to a one-way, 2-year deal.

Olsen, 23, appeared in 44 games with the Panthers last season after being dealt to Florida from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Kris Versteeg. He recorded 12 points (3-9-12) during his first season as a member of the Panthers. Olsen recorded his first NHL goal this past season against Ondrej Pavelec of the Winnipeg Jets.

The 6’2, 223 lb blue-liner is a native of Calgary, Alberta and was drafted by Chicago in the first round of the 2009 entry draft. The rugged defenseman has played 72 career NHL games, registering 13 points (3-10-13), 78 blocked shots, 159 hits and has averaged 14:14 minutes of time on ice.

 

 

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Former Panthers: Where Are They Now?

It’s should come as no surprise to you that there are a large number of for Florida Panthers roaming around the NHL.

As a few members of the Parkway crew and I started compiling this list we came to realize that there are a lot and I mean A LOT of former Florida Panthers in the NHL. As the “Era of Sell” comes to a close there may not be as many former Panthers as we’ve seen the past few seasons so I thought it would be appropriate to profile these ex-cats in memory of their service to Sunrise.

Player: Stephen Weiss

Fictional Twitter Handle: @WeissWeissBaby

Current Team: Detroit Red Wings

Highlight with Current Team: Pavel Datsyuk said hi to him

Fun Off-Ice Fact: He was mistaken for Eminem while at an Arby’s once

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Panthers’ Best Goal and Save of November

After a month in which they fought their way to a 4-8-3 record it’s safe to say that the Panthers’ November campaign was not without controversy. From the firing of head coach Kevin Dineen to the trading of former top-line forward Kris Versteeg, the team began to once again push forward towards a new identity.

While the Cats still find themselves a far cry from a playoff team, they have begun to show improvement under the watchful eye of new head coach Peter Horachek. Even in many of their defeats the team has shown signs of turning it around as the once lowly Florida franchise continues it’s rebuild toward consistency and prominence.

On the ice, the save and goal shown in the videos below aptly demonstrated where the team hopes they are heading – forward.

Best Goal: Aleksander Barkov (11/10/13 vs. New York Rangers)

On the surface this goal by Panthers’ rookie Aleksander Barkov may seem rather pedestrian, but it is the complete series of events that leads to the goal that make it noteworthy. From the crisp passes to the almost zen-like patience of the young Fin, Barkov picks his moments perfectly and helps the team net a rare powerplay goal.

Best Save: Tim Thomas (11/19/13 vs. Vancouver Canucks)

While Tim Thomas may have already amassed a handful of highlight reel saves in his tenure as a Panther, I have decided to choose a series of saves rather than just one particular moment for this month’s top spot. After having already stopped 27 of 29 shots on the evening, Thomas helped will the Panthers to possibly their most impressive victory of the season as he stopped all three Canucks’ shooters in the Cats’ 3-2 shootout victory.

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Florida Panthers Trade Kris Versteeg to Chicago

The winds of change continue to blow in stormy South Florida.

Having already relieved former head coach Kevin Dineen and his assistants of their duties last week, Florida Panthers’ General Manager Dale Tallon made his first big roster move on Thursday night as RW Kris Versteeg and LW Phillippe Lefebvre were traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for RW Jimmy Hayes and D Dylan Olsen.

“We are pleased to welcome both Jimmy and Dylan to the Panthers,” said Tallon in the team’s press release. “Jimmy is a young, strong, hardworking, versatile forward who brings both size and skill to our team. Dylan, a former first round draft pick, is a young, solid defenseman who adds further depth to our blue line. We thank Kris for his contributions to the Panthers, including helping us win the 2011-2012 Southeast Division Championship, and wish him the best of luck in his return to Chicago.”

In just over two seasons with the Panthers, Versteeg totaled 65 points (27G-38A-65P), but had begun to struggle in the year’s since the team’s improbable playoff run in 2011. Prior to being traded, Versteeg tallied 7 points (2G-5A-7P) for the Panthers this season.

In exchange for Versteeg, the Panthers will be getting two young skaters in Hayes and Olsen who both still have a lot to prove at the NHL level.

Hayes, 23, has played in 43 career NHL games with the Blackhawks, scoring 13 points (6G-7A-13P) and 16 PIM. The 6-foot-6, 221-pound forward has both the size and physicality that Tallon has tried to stock up on in Florida.. This season, Hayes has recorded eight points (4G-4A-8P) in 13 games with Rockford (AHL), while also appearing in two games for the Blackhawks.

Olsen,22, has played in 28 career NHL games with the Blackhawks and registered a  lone assist and six PIM during his brief stint in the NHL. This season, he has played in 18 games with Rockford (AHL), recording eight assists and eight PIMs.

We here at Panther Parkway wish Kris Versteeg the best as he enters the next stage of his career.

Thanks for reading and we welcome your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Game Day Preview: Oilers vs. Panthers. Still Breathing When I Walked Away

EDMONTON OILERS: 3-10-2 (8 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 3-8-3 (9 PTS.)

TSN GAME DAY

GAME DAY SONG:  LOST IN THE FLOOD (1975). Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band

The Edmonton Oilers make a rare appearance here in South Florida tonight in a battle of two teams searching for answers.  Or at least some victories.  The Oilers with new coach Dallas Eakins, are at the bottom of the Western conference riding a five game losing streak, that includes being shutout twice.  One of those losses was a result of a shootout, but as we say here at Panther Parkway….a loss is still a loss.  Coming into the season with high expectations, Edmonton is 2-7-1 in their last 10 games, and you can point your finger to goals against as the main culprit.  Much like the Panthers who’ve given up 49 goals, the Oilers have given up a league leading 59.  Also  not helping their situation is the amount of injuries that they’ve suffered.  Ryan Smyth, Taylor Hall and Jesse Joensuu are among the top names of players that are on injured reserve, and Devyn Dubnyk, David Perron and Richard Bachman are day to day with various ailments.

Adding to that, Sam Gagner missed the first 13 games of the season due to a broken jaw, and has just returned to hopefully inject some life into the Oliers roster.  More frustration set in when last season’s number one pick Nail Yakupov was benched for two games in hopes of sending a message about his play.  It’s not a pretty sight in Edmonton these days, and one would think that with all the young players that have been drafted over the past few years, their progress should be better.  Unfortunately, without some skilled veterans to round out the roster and provide the right leadership, the rebuild in Oil country is taking much longer than people expected.  Sound familiar eh?

Florida can relate to much of what the Oilers are going through, yet the Panthers are suffering their agony with a healthy roster.  Minus the injury to Tim Thomas, the Panthers can’t blame their woes on health.  What they can blame it on is the inability to play a full 60 minutes.  There have been games where the Panthers have fought hard to tie a game, only to lose in overtime or the shootout.  And there have also been games where they’ve had a decent start, but after giving up the first goal, the wheels have fallen off, and they’ve let the opposition take the game over.  Putting together a complete effort shouldn’t take 15 games to figure out. Things are beginning to get itchy at this point in the season, and when you’ve only won 3 games out of 14, the prognosis on the balance of the season can’t be good, unless things get turned around quickly.

Coach Kevin Dineen is starting to send messages by benching players during games, as well as providing a comfortable seat in the press box for players who aren’t performing.  No really, the seats are comfy, especially with the access to swedish meatballs, and the assortment of candy now available.  I digress.  Defenceman Ryan Whitney was the first to experience watching the game from upstairs, but finally returned to the lineup on Saturday against the Capitals.  Kris Versteeg however was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career that same game, and wasn’t happy about it.  He also played as an “extra” forward on the fourth line at practice on Monday.  Yea, good times are a happening.  Brad Boyes, who happens to be the teams leading goal scorer has seen games with his minutes cut as well, and was also threatened with being a healthy scratch himself last Friday against Buffalo.  If not for a flu bug to Tomas Fleischmann, he would have been.

Tonight’s game can go either way for either team.  Both clubs are looking to stop 5 game losing streaks, yet one will continue for sure after this game is completed.  This could be a very sloppy game that ends up a high scoring affair, or both teams are so uptight, we could see a scoreless game not decided until the shootout.

If things don’t change much for either team, and soon,  you’d have to think that something is going to happen.  Someone will get fired, and or players will get traded.  Neither club can afford to let this type of slide continue for too much longer without some sort of shakeup.  The Oilers are a proud franchise with a smart and knowledgeable fan base that is growing impatient waiting for a rebuild to take hold.  The Panthers on the other hand are fighting for respect, aiming to improve, but having difficulty putting together the right mix.

Notes:

* Jesse Winchester has 3 points in his last 4 games.

* Tomas Kopecky is still scoreless in his first 14 games.

* Tom Gilbert and Matt Gilroy are pointless in their last 6 games.

* Scott Gomez is pointless in his last 7 games.

* According to the TSN Game Day above, Edmonton has no “hot players”.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Late Goal Spoils Tim Thomas’ Big Night (Quotes)

Sunrise, Fla. — Over a year of controversy and anticipation came down to just the final 59 seconds of Thursday night’s game as a bouncing puck made its’ way past Panthers’ goaltender Tim Thomas to give his former team, the Boston Bruins, a heartbreaking 3-2 victory in front of a divided crowd at the BB&T Center.

Thomas, a longtime staple of the professional sports culture in Boston, suited up for the first time against the Bruins since his controversial decision to take a leave of absence following the 2011-2012 season. While with the Bruins, Thomas earned a  921 SV% / 2.48 GAA with a career record of 196-121-45 in 378 games played.

Based on his history with Boston – both positive and negative – it suffices to say that this wasn’t just a normal regular season matchup by any means for either party involved.

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Panthers Begin Crucial Six-Game Home Stand

Sunrise, Fla. — After losing five of their first seven games, the Florida Panthers will look to get back on the right track against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night as they begin a crucial six-game home stand at the BB&T Center. Amazingly, even with their early struggles this season, the Panthers don’t find themselves too deep in the cellar of the Eastern Conference standings just yet.

Coming off a 4-3 road loss to the Nashville Predators, the Panthers currently sit in 7th place in the newly formed Atlantic Division, but have yet to lose too much ground in the Eastern Conference standings as the Western Conference continues to dominate their eastern opponents in the early stages of this season’s inter-conference match-ups.

If the Panthers hope to amend the current course of their season, they will begin with the daunting task of besting last season’s Eastern Conference champions, the Boston Bruins.

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Game Day Preview and Discussion: Lightning vs. Panthers

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 1-2-0 (2 PTS) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning: 2-1-0 (4 PTS)

TSN GAMEDAY

Game Day Song: “I Can Change” – LCD Soundsystem 

In the last leg of a grueling four game road-trip to begin their 2013-2014 campaign, the Florida Panthers will get their first taste of the Sunshine State rivalry this season tonight as they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning before heading home to take on the mighty Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. Not suiting up for the Panthers tonight will be starting goaltender Tim Thomas who suffered a “slight groin pull” in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers. However, fans should still have reason to feel optimistic as youthful goaltender Jacob Markstrom will get the start in net tonight after stopping all 25 shots he faced in relief against the Flyers. Though it is reported that Thomas’ injury most likely won’t keep him out for an extended period of time, Markstrom could still grasp this opportunity and use it to earn more starts down the line as he still looks to prove himself as an everyday NHL goaltender early on in his career.

While you may think that losing their starting goaltender three games into the season would be the Panthers’ biggest cause for concern at this point, that is sadly the least of their worries. Heading into tonight’s game in Tampa, the Panthers have still yet to register a power play goal – going an astounding 0-16 with an extra man this season thus far. Although the Panthers’ power play has proven to be formidable in the past – 6th in the league last season – it is possible that the arrival of so many new faces has disrupted the Panthers’ once potent chemistry on the power play. For example, Tom Gilbert, who joined the team right before the season started, has clocked the 2nd most power play minutes on the team this season. Hopefully for the Panthers’ sake, once the team is given more time gel, the power play will start to click once again.

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Vote: Who Will Lead The Panthers in Scoring This Season?

After a season in which they scored an NHL-worst 2.27 goals per game on average, the Florida Panthers will enter the 2013-2014 season with a handful of new faces that will try and improve on last year’s stagnant offense. Newcomers like rookie Aleksander Barkov and veteran Brad Boyes will look to make headlines during their first year wearing Panther red, while South Florida mainstays such as Kris Versteeg and Jonathan Huberdeau are set to add to their growing Panther resumes. Although winger Tomas Fleischmann has quietly led the team in scoring for the past two season, this new influx of offensive talent may finally place a new face atop the Panthers’ scoring charts.

Just days away from opening night and the final roster nearly in place, the question can now be posed  – who will lead the Panthers in scoring this season?

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The Florida Panthers Start The Season Desperately Seeking Respect

This season is the 20th anniversary of South Florida’s hockey club, the Florida Panthers.  A franchise that was born the same year this writer moved to the Sunshine State, and has provided the fanbase with thrills and disapppointment just like any other sports team.  The negatives may have outweighed the positives during these two decades, however with the announcement of new ownership which came on Friday, the Florida Panthers are about to embark their way back.  Back to a team that had the respect of the league and it’s fans when they first joined the NHL.  It’s going to take time, but maybe not as long as was originally thought.

Sunrise Sports & Entertainment announced this past Friday that Vincent Viola has become Chairman, Principal Owner & Governor of SSE, the Florida Panthers and the Broward County-owned BB&T Center. 
In addition to that, Douglass Cifu will take on the role of Vice Chairman, Partner and Alternate Governor, as Michael Yormark has been promoted to President and CEO of the organization.  The announcement and video from the Panthers website can be found here.

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