The Panthers Development Camp came to a close Friday as the prospects competed in a scrimmage in front of hundreds of Panthers fans at the JetBlue Practice Facility at Saveology.com Iceplex.
The scrimmage ended a great week of camp for 34 of the Panthers top prospects. A 5-3 final in favor of Team White, Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon was ecstatic about the way the players competed throughout.
"I think two years ago when we started this camp, we didn't have a lot of skill but we have got a lot of skill now," said Tallon. "We've got a lot of size. We've got a lot of depth. We've got a real solid group of young prospects.
"Our organization is very deep right now."
Director of Scouting Scott Luce agreed with his boss' assessment of the talent, especially with the way the two scrimmages were played.
"'The players came in the last two days and did a great job in very competitive scrimmages," said Luce. "The depth of the organization is quite evident when we look out there and there's lots of competition for jobs, not only in the short term but in the long term. Once again, it's an overall success."
In Friday's action, Michael Hauser (Team White) and 2010 Draft Pick Sam Brittain (Team Red; 4th Round, 92nd Overall) were perfect through the first twenty minutes turning aside a couple of good offensive opportunities.
The offense got going in the second as Anthony Luciani gave Team White a 1-0 advantage with a nice shot from the slot on the rush midway through. 2012 Draft Pick Alexander Delnov (4th Round, 114th Overall) would tie it even while falling to the ice on a breakaway after getting tripped. 2012 Draft Pick Francis Beauvillier (6th Round, 174th Overall) would give Team White the lead back heading into the second intermission as he scored from just outside the crease.
The third period saw more offense as Team White opened up a two-goal advantage when 2009 Draft Pick Josh Birkholz (3rd Round, 67th Overall) banged home a rebound past Andrey Makarov. The "visitors" in Red would fight back to tie the game as 2009 Draft Pick Wade Megan (5th Round, 138th Overall) and 2012 Draft Pick Steven Hodges (3rd Round, 84th overall) scored on nice shots top shelf past Andrew Volkening. Team White would not be denied the victory however as 2010 Draft Pick Joe Basaraba (3rd Round, 69th overall) scored off a nice feed from down low. 2011 Draft Pick Kyle Rau (3rd Round, 91st Overall) cemented the victory by scoring into the empty net with time running out.
The highly competitive scrimmages gave the Panthers brass food for thought as it would be the last time they would see their players for the summer.
"A lot of good players," said Tallon. "A lot of top notch people fighting for jobs. You can see the intensity in the game today and yesterday."
With camp complete, the players will travel back home and prepare for the season, remembering what they've learned.
"I think it was a successful week. Everyone got to know each other," said 2010 Draft Pick Alex Petrovic (2nd round, 36th overall). "All the new draft picks got to see what they're like. I think everyone got along really well. Overall it was lots of fun. Of course went to the beach, learned how to cook and all that so it was a great week."
"It's nice to come here," said 2011 Draft Pick Jonathan Huberdeau (1st Round, 3rd overall). "It's more to learn a lot of stuff here and get a good experience. Last year was awesome and this year too, meeting new people, new teammates. It's great to come here and now I'm going back home and getting ready for the real camp."
"I learned a lot from this week," said 2011 Draft Pick Vincent Trocheck (3rd Round, 64th overall). "We learned a lot about nutrition this week. Staying healthy and in the weight room. What to do and what not to do. We had a psychiatrist come in and show us kind of how to relax ourselves and stay focused on and off the ice. On the ice as well, we learned from (Bryan) McCabe and he's a great role model and all the coaches and staff, they helped us out a lot."
One of the main reasons for the success of the camp was in large part due to Director of Player Development Brian Skrudland and newly hired Manager of Player Development Bryan McCabe. It's easy to see why the young guns could learn a lot.
"For me the biggest thing is the job that Brian Skrudland and Bryan McCabe did with this Development Camp. It's phenomenal," said Luce. "To see the boys, our prospects as excited as they are to be around these former NHL players, former Panthers, and they're listening and they're sponges and they're acquiring information on nutrition, financial information, what it's like to be a pro, what it's like to transition from the amateur level to the pro level."
They'll take what they learned as they prepare for their upcoming seasons whether it be at the pro or amateur levels.