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Panthers happy to have Stillman in fold

by Mike G. Morreale

Cory Stillman brings two Stanley Cups worth of experience to a Florida squad that hasn't tasted the postseason in eight years.
Florida Panthers General Manager Jacques Martin feels he's found a player with the leadership and playoff savvy that can help lead his team to its first postseason berth in eight seasons.

Left wing Cory Stillman, just the sixth player in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup in back-to-back seasons with different teams, was signed by Martin to a three-year deal on Tuesday. Florida will be the third team that Stillman has played for in 2008; he began the 2007-08 season in Carolina before being dealt to Ottawa at the trade deadline.

"Cory will be a tremendous addition to our team, bringing with him a wealth of character, leadership and playing experience," Martin said. "He possesses strong offensive abilities, plays responsibly on both ends of the ice and will be an asset to our club on special teams. Cory is a proven winner and we are confident that he will play an integral part in our club's future success.

"I think he’s an individual who will provide some leadership through his actions, through his play on the ice, his commitment, and the fact he’s won two Stanley Cups. I think he’s a good mentor for our young players.”

Stillman waived his no-trade clause in February so the Hurricanes could trade him along with defenseman Mike Commodore to the Senators for Patrick Eaves and Joe Corvo. At the time, Stillman had 21 goals and 25 assists in 55 games.

Following the trade, Stillman collected three goals and 16 assists in 24 games with Ottawa, which struggled down the stretch of the regular season before being swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Stillman played in four playoff games with the Senators, scoring two goals on 15 shots.

“I believe Cory is a tremendous team player and I think he’ll fit in well with our people,” said Martin. “He’s a player who has the ability to score some goals but is also a very smart player. He’s a player that’s won two Stanley Cups, and both times he won the Stanley Cups he had tremendous playoffs.

“He’s a great competitor, great on the power play, and I think he’ll be able to really help our top two lines and bring some of the production we have lost. But he’s also got great character. We know he trains hard in the offseason and he has a really good understanding of the game.”

Stillman (6-foot, 190 pounds), who scored a career-high 27 goals on two occasions (with Calgary in 1997-98 and 1998-99), had 25 goals and 80 points with the Stanley Cup-champion Tampa Bay Lightning in 2003-04. He then won another Cup with the Hurricanes in 2005-06, recording 21 goals and 76 points. He ranked second in the NHL in playoff scoring in 2006 with 26 points (nine goals).

The Peterborough, Ontario native has recorded eight 20-plus goal seasons, along with eight 40-plus point seasons. There's a good chance he'll play on a line with center Nathan Horton, who finished second on the team with 62 points in 2007-08. The move could actually enable Stillman to reach the 25-goal plateau. He's also a threat on the power-play, as evidenced by his 11 tallies this past season. The 34-year-old Stillman had six points (four goals) in five games against the Panthers last season, including a two-goal effort on Nov. 12, giving the Hurricanes a 4-3 victory.

Martin said he was uncertain if he would take another dip into the free agent pool.

“If you look at the numbers, we would have 12 players signed as far as forwards are concerned and eight defensemen,’’ he said. “That leaves some spots for kids as well. As I said all along, we have some kids who may be ready to play.”

Stillman has played in 839 National Hockey League contests for Calgary (1994-2001), St. Louis (2001-03), Tampa Bay (2003-04), Carolina (2005-08) and Ottawa (2007-08) scoring 234 goals with 368 assists and 406 PIM. He was originally drafted by Calgary with its first choice (6th overall) in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft.

Contact Mike Morreale at

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