Friday, June 29, 2012

The Cat's Meow: Draft Recap, Free Agent Frenzy, Pavel Bure, and Development Camp

The Draft
This past weekend in Pittsburgh, the Florida Panthers made their choices and drafted five junior players who will have the opportunity to one day don the Panthers red and blue. Below is a list of players taken, and their rounds.

First Round: Pick #23 
Michael Matheson (D)
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 178 lbs
Shoots: Left
Team: Dubuque, USHL
Country: Canada
Last Season: Led all Dubuque defensemen with 27 points and was tied for sixth in overall scoring. 

Second Round: No picks

Third Round: Pick #84
Steven Hodges (C)
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 178 lbs
Shoots: Left
Team: Victoria, WHL
Country: Canada
Last Season: Was sixth in points (46) for Victoria forwards and was one of four players to play the full 72-game season, not including the playoffs.

Fourth Round: Pick #114
Alexander Delnov (LW)
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 187 lbs
Shoots: Left
Team: Mytischi 2, Russia-JR.
Country: Russia
Review: Played 47 games, scored eleven goals and collected eleven helpers last season.

Fifth Round: No picks

Sixth Round: Pick #174
Francis Beauvillier (C & LW)
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 180 lbs
Shoots: Left
Team: Rimouski, QMJHL
Country: Canada
Review: Scored 23 goals and logged 75 PIM last season.

Seventh Round: Pick #194
Jonatan Nielsen (D)
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 183 lbs
Shoots: Right
Team: Linkoping Jr., Swe-JR.
Country: Sweden
Review: Played 38 games, scored five goals, four assists and logged 24 PIM.

Free Agent Frenzy
The infamous Free Agent Frenzy does not actually start until Sunday, but the Florida Panthers have their eyes on several free agents, and have to take care of some business of their own.
  • The Panthers sent qualifying offers to nine of their restricted free agents: (D) Mike Caruso, (D) Roman Derlyuk(D) Keaton Ellerby, (G) Brian Foster, (D) Dmitry Kulikov(F) Michal Repik, (F) Eric Selleck, (F) Kris Versteeg, and (F) James Wright. Of those nine, Ellerby, Kulikov, and Versteeg were the only to participate in the playoffs. 
  • The Panthers have thirteen restricted free agents: (LW) Wojtek Wolski, (RW) Kris Versteeg, (D) Dmitry Kulikov,  (C) James Wright, (D) Roman Derlyuk, (RW) Michal Repik, (D) Keaton Ellerby, (C) Ondrej Roman, (LW) Eric Selleck, (G) Brian Foster, (D) Keith Seabrook, (D) Mike Caruso, and (C) Justin Bernhardt.
  • And twelve unrestricted free agents: (RW) Mikael Samuelsson, (LW) Marco Sturm, (G) Scott Clemmensen, (RW) Krystofer Barch, (C) Bracken Kearns, (D) Jason Garrison, (C) Mark Cullen, (C) John Madden, (RW) Bill Thomas, (C) Greg Rallo, (D) Sean Sullivan, and (C) John Matsumoto.
  • Coach Kevin Dineen has expressed that he would like management to re-sign (RW) Mikael Samuelsson. Samuelsson, 35, played 46 games since his trade to Florida from Vancouver and had 13 goals and 15 assists since his arrival, including five assists in seven playoff games. 
  • (D) Jason Garrison would like to remain in South Florida, as he is a pending unrestricted free agent, but has not ruled out testing free agent waters. As of June 20th, he has received a new contract offer. According to The Hockey News, no team has contacted the Panthers regarding acquiring Garrison's rights.  
  • The Panthers would also like to re-sign restricted free agent (RW) Kris Versteeg, an integral part to the team's success this season. Seeing that he is an RFA, it is almost certain that he will re-sign.
  • (G) Scott Clemmensen is said to be one of the best free agent goalies in this year's market. As of June 6th, the Florida Panthers also sent him a new contract offer. Columbus GM Scott Howson has expressed an interesting in adding more stability to the crease, and Clemmensen might just be one an option.
  • P.A Parenteau, New York Islanders, RW: Considered one of the best forwards in this summer's free agent class, Parenteau flourished alongside John Tavares and Matt Moulson last season. A 67-point season with 18 goals makes me wonder what it'd be like if he stopped and shot more. A new team could find him in a similar role as a set-up winger. 
  • Andrei Kostitsyn, Nashville Predators, RW & LW: Considered a so-called 'problem child' after his curfew-breaking incident during last year's playoffs. After six and half seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Andrei was reunited with his brother, Sergei, in the middle of last season, leading to a jump in production. His reunion with his brother is not credited as the reason for his recent successes, but he can produce in the right situation and be considered a top-six forward. 
  • Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks, G: Rumors have been swirling since Luongo admitted he would not want to stand in the way of the Canucks success and would be unopposed if management decided to move him. A former Florida Panther, he spent five seasons with the team before being traded to the Canucks prior to the 2006-2007 season--a trade considered one of the worst in hockey history. There is no logical reason for the Florida Panthers to trade for him; as they have promising goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom in the minors, yet reports have surfaced that Luongo himself has refused to move his no-trade clause to any team but Florida. 
Pavel Bure
  • Former Florida Panther Pavel Bure is one of the newest Hockey Hall of Fame inductees, along with fellow members of the Class of 2012; Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, and Adam Oates. Bure, who spent four seasons with the Panthers and was a five-time 50 goal scorer, is considered long overdue for his nod after being eligible since 2006. Though his 12-year playing career was cut short by consistent knee issues, the "Russian Rocket" posted 779 points in 702 games.  
Development Camp
  • 36 Florida Panthers prospects (24 forwards, eight defensemen and four goalies) will attend the Florida Panthers development camp. Camp opens on Monday, July 2, and will take place at Iceplex in Coral Springs. All on-ice sessions are free and open to the public. The camp's complete roster can be found here. The on-ice schedule is below and its dates, times and players are all subject to change without notice. 
Monday, July 2: 1pm-4pm (practice)
Tuesday, July 3: 9am-11am (practice)
Thursday, July 5: 9am-11am (practice/scrimmage)
Friday, July 6: 9am-11am (scrimmage)

Best of luck to all the rookies!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Sports Fix

Now that the Miami Heat have won the NBA championship and King James has his ring, a hush falls over Floridian sports fans as we try to think of what to occupy our week nights with now that the NBA finals and Heat parties are over. Below are 3 sports or sporting events to keep your sports fix in check over the summer.

1. Baseball
Baseball is an acquired taste, and many find it boring, but if you haven't tried watching baseball before, try it out. The Miami Marlins seem to be having a better season that last year's so far, so now may be the time to start watching!

2. Soccer
The #1 sport in almost every other part of the world besides the U.S., teams from around the world are battling for the Euro 2012 championship. Check out your family tree to discover what nationality (or nationalities) you are, and therefore what teams to cheer for!

3. Summer Olympics
The summer olympics begin July 27 in London, England and include a variety of sports, many of which I know little to nothing about, including archery, gymnastics, rowing, sailing, volleyball, shooting, fencing, diving, and more. For the nonconformists among us, the 2012 summer olympics may be calling your name.

Rowing appeared simple and effortless-looking to me - that is, until I tried it and realized how hard it is to row perfectly in sync with everyone else in your canoe, while trying not to tip it...and how tired my weak arms were afterward. Most of the odd, seemingly nerdy sports people make fun of actually require a lot of skill and hard work, like the mainstream ones everyone knows about. Before you make fun of it, try it might be surprised!

As we wait with bated breath for the college football, NFL and NHL seasons to begin, try watching a sport you know little about or trying a new sport with your friends.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Cat's Meow: NHL Awards & The Draft

By Ruchika Sharma
Pine Crest School

The NHL Awards were held last night in Las Vegas. The NHL and its stars were on full display, among many celebrity presenters and Nickelback as the musical guest. Many awards were given out last night, and several players took home the hardware. Below are the awards, the nominees, and the winners.

Hart Memorial Trophy-Awarded to the most valuable player of the year, selected by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association
  • Evgeni Malkin [Pittsburgh Penguins]
  • Henrik Lundqvist [New York Rangers]
  • Steven Stamkos [Tampa Bay Lightning]
Ted Lindsay Award-Awarded to the most valuable player of the year, selected by fellow NHLers
  • Evgeni Malkin [Pittsburgh Penguins]
  • Henrik Lundqvist [New York Rangers]
  • Steven Stamkos [Tampa Bay Lightning]
Vezina Trophy-Awarded to the best goaltender of the year
  • Henrik Lundqvist [New York Rangers]
  • Jonathan Quick [Los Angeles Kings]
  • Pekka Rinne [Nashville Predators]
James Norris Memorial Trophy-Awarded to the best defenseman of the year
  • Erik Karlsson [Ottawa Senators]
  • Shea Weber [Nashville Predators]
  • Zdeno Chara [Boston Bruins]
Calder Memorial Trophy-Awarded to the best rookie of the year
  • Adam Henrique [New Jersey Devils]
  • Gabriel Landeskog [Colorado Avalanche]
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins [Edmonton Oilers]
Jack Adams Award-Awarded to the best coach of the year
  • John Tortorella [New York Rangers]
  • Ken Hitchcock [St. Louis Blues]
  • Paul MacLean [Ottawa Senators]
General Manager of the Year Award-Awarded to the best general manager of the year
  • Dale Tallon [Florida Panthers]
  • David Poile [Nashville Predators]
  • Doug Armstrong [St. Louis Blues]
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy-Awarded to the most gentlemanly player and the best exhibitor of sportsmanship
  • Brian Campbell [Florida Panthers]
  • Jordan Eberle [Edmonton Oilers]
  • Matt Moulson [New York Islanders]
Frank J. Selke Trophy-Awarded to the best defensive forward
  • David Backes [St. Louis Blues]
  • Patrice Bergeron [Boston Bruins]
  • Pavel Datsyuk [Detroit Red Wings]
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy-Awarded to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey
  • Daniel Alfredsson [Ottawa Senators]
  • Joffrey Lupul [Toronto Maple Leafs]
  • Max Pacioretty [Montreal Canadiens]
King Clancy Trophy-Awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice, in addition to a significant humanitarian contribution to his community. One player from each team is nominated.
  • Daniel Alfredsson [Ottawa Senators]
NHL Foundation Award-Awarded to the player who 'applies the core values of hockey [commitment, perseverance, and teamwork] to enrich the lives of his the people in his community'.
  • John-Michael Liles [Toronto Maple Leafs]
  • Matt Moulson [New York Islanders] 
  • Mike Fisher [Nashville Predators]
Bridgestone Messier Leadership Award-Awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice during the regular season
  • Dustin Brown [Los Angeles Kings]
  • Ryan Callahan [New York Rangers]
  • Shane Doan [Phoenix Coyotes]
Art Ross Trophy-Awarded to the player who leads the NHL in points at the end of the regular season
  • Evgeni Malkin [Pittsburgh Penguins] 109 Points
Maurice Richard Trophy-Awarded to the player who leads the NHL in goals 
  • Steven Stamkos [Tampa Bay Lightning] 60 Goals
William M. Jennings Trophy-Awarded to the goaltenders who play at least twenty five games for a team and have the fewest goals scored against them at the end of the regular season
  • Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak [St. Louis Blues] 165 Goals Against

Now that the NHL Awards are over, Panthers fans still have something to look forward to: The NHL Draft. Over 200 players are selected each year, one step closer to living the big league dream.The Draft is being held in Pittsburgh, with Round One tomorrow night and Rounds Two through Seven on Saturday morning. Panthers fans can catch the Round One of the Draft on NBC Sports Network tomorrow night at 7pm and Rounds 2-7 Saturday morning at 10am on NHL Network. For the first time in a while, the Panthers hold a pick much later in the first round than they are used to. Below are the Florida Panthers spots in the Draft.

First Round: Pick #23
Second Round: No picks
Third Round: Pick #84
Fourth Round: Pick #114
Fifth Round: No picks
Sixth Round: Pick #174
Seventh Round: Pick #194

So for all you Panthers fans, be sure to tune into the 2012 NHL Entry Draft tomorrow night at 7 on NBC Sports Network. 

Happy Picking!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Cat's Meow: An Introduction

By Ruchika Sharma
Pine Crest

Hi everybody! My name is Ruchika Sharma, and I'm probably the biggest hockey nut around. I was born in Montreal, Canada; so to answer your question, yes, I am a stereotypical Canadian [though only when it comes to hockey].  I'm originally a Montreal Canadiens fan [gotta represent the hometown boys]and I moved to Florida nine years ago. It took some time for me to warm up to the Florida Panthers, six years, to be exact.

After moving here, they were just so horrible that they managed to tug at my heartstrings, and I had to root for them. Seeing them make the playoffs this year made me feel like a proud mother. Sure, my Canadiens come first, but I'll defend the Panthers to no end.

I understand that hockey isn't the biggest thing in South Florida; the Heat, the Dolphins and even the Marlins tend to garner more attention than the Panthers. But this season's playoffs proved that South Florida can, in fact, be a hockey town. This year's playoffs were often referred to as 'silly', just because non-traditional hockey markets made it, like Nashville, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Florida.

But I see a lot of potential in the Florida Panthers. Heck, the fans are rejuvenated and believe it too. Keep this in mind: the Panthers were the only team to push the New Jersey Devils to seven games, who faced off against the Los Angeles Kings, eventually losing in six games.

Alas, hockey season is over. The Los Angeles Kings have taken home the Stanley Cup, and will enjoy it until October. Us Panthers' fans have a long time to wait until hockey returns to South Florida. Unless, of course, you'll anxiously be watching the Draft next Saturday, just like me...

Until then,


Sunday, June 10, 2012

2012 NBA Finals

Prediction? The Heat will beat OKC in six games.

We all know what Miami is capable of. We all witnessed Games 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The five things that the Miami Heat have going for them are:

1. Oh my Bosh!
Chris Bosh is back. Finishing with 19 points and 8 rebounds in Game 7 of the Boston series, he was the main spark that got the Heat out their slump and into a full-on attack mode. Hitting three threes and grabbing rebound after rebound, having Bosh back is one of the keys to winning this championship. With Bosh being healthy, the Heat are starting to put themselves into a very good position to win this championship.

2. The supporting cast
Even though Coach Spo is keeping the bench tight, the supporting cast has truly stepped up in the post season and has been such an integral part in the team's wins. In Game 7 of the Boston series alone, Battier nailed four threes, Chalmers had nine points, and Udonis grabbed six boards. The bench has consistently been stepping it up, and if they continue, OKC is going to have a very tough time handling this team.

3. Defend This House
Game 7 at the America Airlines Arena was loud. I've been to many Heat games over the years, and Saturday night's game was the craziest game I've ever been to. Countless people in the arena stood the entire game to cheer on their home team. Fans were chanting for the full 48 minutes. Once the Heat cut Boston's lead at the beginning of the game and eventually started pulling away from the Celtics, the arena was too loud and too involved for the Celtics to even have a chance to get something going. I believe that it will be tough for any team to win in the AAA if the crowd stay's loud and involved.

4. All hail The King
LeBron James. LBJ. Bron Bron. MVP. King James. He proved himself game after game after game. He proved that no one in the NBA could stop him. He proved that he won't let the haters affect him. He proved that he is ready to bring home a championship.

5. Put a Ring On It
I've never seen this much focus from this Miami Heat team. Before, during, and after the games, the Heat are in the zone. They play, take care of business, then prepare for the next game. Every member of the Miami Heat organization has one goal in mind- to win it all. They won't settle for anything less than the championship, so I don't think that anyone, including OKC, will stand in there way.

That's all i have to say about the Miami Heat!
It is going to be a thrilling, up-tempo, and crazy final series, but I truly feel that the Heat will pull away with the win.
We have always had the talent, but I feel like we have the complete drive to win a championship with this team.