Panthers Rookie Tournament and Camp Preview
The light at the end of the non-hockey tunnel is coming into view, and for those lucky enough to live close to Hull, they have the pleasure of watching four team’s rookies compete in a round-robin tournament. Taking part in the tourney are the Florida Panthers, Phoenix Coyotes (replacing the Lightning after they pulled out due to the brawls last year), Montreal Canadiens, and Ottawa Senators. A schedule can be found at the end of this article.
For Panther fans, this will be an opportunity to preview Stephen Weiss, who will given the opportunity of competing for the second-line center spot on the Panthers, and also get a glimpse of several promising prospects who will be pushing veterans for spots within a few years. Players such as Lukas Krajicek, Davis Parley, Tomas Malec, and Niklas Hagman are all being counted on to provide future depth and ensure a smooth turnover as the veterans retire or are traded away.
Centers: Stephen Weiss, Plymouth; Dustin Johner, Seattle; Janis Sprukts, Lukko Rauma; Mike Green, Knoxville; Jordan Walker (Amatuer Try-Out), Acadia Univ.; Jonathan Labelle (ATO), Hull.
Of all the players here, Stephen Weiss is the one to watch as his performance here will earn him the flight to South Florida for the NHL Training camp. Panther brass will also be looking at Janis Sprukts making his first North American training camp after playing a few years in Europe, as well as looking at recent draft pick, the speedy Dustin Johner.
Right Wing: David Morisset, Seattle; Sean O’Connor, Moose Jaw; Kyle Bruce, Prince Albert; Morgan McCormick (ATO), Guelph.
With the exception of Morrisset, this is a tough group of physical wingers who try to punish all opposing players on their way to the nets. Former draft pick Morgan McCormick is also looking to re-earn himself a free agent contract after being let go in the off-season by the Panthers. One of the players being counted on to bring about a return of team speed down the road , is the swift skating Morrisset whose swift skating drew some comparisons to former Panther Radek Dvorak. Look for him to get the invite to South Florida as well.
Left Wing: Niklas Hagman, Karpat; Matthew Sommerfeld, Swift Current; Greg Watson, Prince Albert; Josh Olson, Portland; Ryan Armstrong (ATO), North Bay.
Completing the set of physical wingers, the left side of the line-up has some strong character guys with Greg Watson, Matt Sommerfeld, and Josh Olson. In addition, Niklas Hagman makes his North American training camp debut, and he is one player that the Panthers are counting on to make the team this season or next. Having said that, look for Hagman to fly the friendly skies to sunny South Florida to show his stuff against the pros.
Defense: Michel Periard, Rockford; Paul Elliott, Regina; Chris Eade, North Bay; Vladimir Sapozhnikov, North Bay; Lukas Krajicek, Peterborough; Tomas Malec, Rimouski; Grant McNeill, Prince Albert; Doug Schueller, Bowling Green.
Recent high draft picks Lukas Krajicek and Sapozhnikov’s skills will be in the spotlight at this camp, and some other prospects to keep an eye on are Tomas Malec and the tough bruisers Eade and McNeill. My bet to fly south with the birds would be Krajicek, Chris Eade, and Sapozhnikov.
Goaltenders: Davis Parley, Kamloops; Andrew Allen, Vermont; Billy Thompson, Prince George.
With the off-season departures of several goalies, new-comers Andrew Allen and Billy Thompson will share goaltending duties with WHL Save % leader Davis Parley. Look for the collegiate goalie Allen and the maturing Parley to make the trip to the peninsula to have a go at the main camp.
Teams comprised of rookies and prospects from the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Florida Panthers and Phoenix Coyotes will compete in the 4 day tournament.
Adults only pay $5 and children $2.50 to see both games of the day. Tickets will be sold at the Robert-Guertin Arena box office starting at 3:30 p.m. on game days. The schedule is as follows:
Wednesday, September 5 – Montreal vs Phoenix at 5 p.m.; Ottawa vs Florida at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, September 6 – Montreal vs Florida at 5 p.m.; Ottawa vs Phoenix at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, September 7 – Phoenix vs Florida at 5 p.m.; Montreal vs Ottawa at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 8 – Consolation Game at 5 p.m.; Final Game at 7:30 p.m.