By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
|Last summer, GM Jacques Martin hired a new coach (Peter DeBoer) as part of a busy off-season. This summer he'll be just as busy, including looking to upgrade the organization through the draft and free agency.
Jacques Martin sat in his office at BankAtlantic Center recently rifling through a book of player evaluations and going over his calendar for the next two months.
The NHL season might be over for the Panthers, but not the work.
Through the next several weeks, right up to the June 26-27 Entry Draft in Montreal, the Panthers GM will travel to Switzerland, Toronto and Quebec while evaluating talent from around the world, meeting possible draft picks, watching Panther prospects, and working on building a better team.
“There’s a lot to do after the season,” Martin said.
First stop, Switzerland, where Martin will take in the IIHF World Championships this week. The Panthers are represented in the Worlds by Keith Ballard (U.S. National Team), Michael Frolik and Rostislav Olesz (Czech Republic) and Karlis Skrastins and Janis Sprukts (Latvia).
For Martin, the World Championships is also an opportunity to watch international players who are not playing in the NHL.
“There’s always players who are available who play for the national teams who don’t play in the National Hockey League,” Martin said. “So it’s kind of a two-purpose trip. One is to see some of the new players who are eligible to sign as free agents, and another is that it’s a great opportunity to see a lot of the players from other organizations while getting a good evaluation or rating of where they are. And we'll have some players there, too.”
From Switzerland, Martin heads to Rimouski, Quebec, where he’ll attend the Canadian Hockey League’s Memorial Cup from May 15-25. From Quebec, Martin’s next stop will be Toronto where, along with Panthers staff, including director of amateur scouting Scott Luce, he’ll attend the NHL Scouting Combine from May 25-30.
The Scouting Combine brings together more than 100 of the best draft-eligible players from North America and Europe. For five days they’ll be put through physical, medical and psychological tests by each team.
“We usually interview the players our scouts like and Scott will make a list of who he wants to interview,” Martin said. “We interview quite a few kids each year. Then the testing is on the 29th and 30th.”
Once the Combine is over, Martin will make his way approximately one hour northwest of Toronto for the Panthers Development Camp at Teen Ranch in Orangeville. Many of the Panthers top-rated prospects will attend the June 1-8 development camp. Invited are forwards Michael Frolik, Shawn Matthias
, Michal Repik
, Kenndal McArdle and defensemen Keaton Ellerby
and Jason Garrison
From Teen Ranch, Martin will then huddle with his scouts and staff to attend the Entry Draft. Throughout the two months, Martin will have to decide what he’ll do with unrestricted free agents Radek Dvorak, Ville Peltonen, Richard Zednik, Karlis Skrastins, Nick Boynton, Jay Bouwmeester and Craig Anderson, as well as restricted free agents David Booth, Anthony Stewart and Steve Eminger.
For Martin and his staff, it will be a busy summer.