Good morning and welcome to "Cats & Coffee," a weekly segment, presented by Koffee Kult, in which we serve up an exciting look at what's on deck for your Florida Panthers. Like our friends at Koffee Kult, this forecast serves up only the best -- so sit back, sip and enjoy our latest brew of news, notes and information!
It's time for the first domino to fall.
After creating a groundswell of buzz throughout the summer with one big move after another, the Florida Panthers will finally begin traversing their month-long road to the regular season when the team's top prospects hit the ice for rookie camp this week at the Panthers IceDen.
A chance for young roster hopefuls to make a good impression on the organization's coaches and top brass before training camp begins later in the month, the two-day rookie camp will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, with both on-ice sessions scheduled for a 9:30 a.m. start.
While a full rookie camp preview will be released later today on FloridaPanthers.com, there are definitely a few players you should be keeping an eye on this week. Henrik Borgstrom highlights the group after posting eight goals and 10 assists in 50 games as a rookie last season, while first-year pros Owen Tippett and Aleksi Heponiemi hope to make a similar jump in 2019-20.
There will also be six prospects attending from Florida's 2019 draft class, including second-round pick Vladislav Kolyachonok and third-round picks Jon Ludvig and Cole Schwindt. As it has been in the past, NCAA-bound players cannot attend this camp, so you won't see goalie Spencer Knight, who is heading to Boston College after being selected 10th overall by the Cats.
In total, there will be 15 forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders in attendance.
To view the full 2019-20 rookie camp roster, click HERE.
However, like I said previously, rookie camp is only the first domino.
On Friday, the rest of the Panthers will join in on the fun when the team kicks off training camp.
As always, both camps are free and open to the public, so we look forward to seeing you there!
NEW CAT ON THE BROADCAST
In addition to beefing up their roster, the Panthers also bolstered their media team this summer.
After spending last season with the USHL, Katie Gaus will take her talents to South Florida this season after being hired as the team's new digital reporter. Additionally, she will also serve as in-game reporter during select FOX Sports Florida broadcasts this season, joining a talented group that already includes play-by-play announcer Steve Goldstein, color analyst Randy Moller and hosts Craig Minervini and Jessica Blaylock.
"In an effort to avoid complete clichés, I will only say it once: THIS IS MY DREAM JOB," Gaus penned in an enthusiastic blog for FloridaPanthers.com. "That being said, I cannot wait to get started. This is such an exciting time to be joining the Panthers. The team is stacked, and so is the media crew. Thanks for letting me join the Panthers family, I'll see ya (on camera) very soon!"
You can check out Katie's full blog HERE, and make sure to give her a follow on Twitter @Katie_Gaus!
The time for season ticket holders to purchase "Ice and Dice" tickets is now!
Sponsored by BB&T and JetBlue, this casino night gives fans a chance to both chat with and challenge Panthers players, coaches and broadcasters in poker, blackjack and more, all while giving back to the community by helping raise money for the Florida Panthers Foundation.
You must be at least 21 years old to purchase a ticket and attend "Ice and Dice." The cost of entry is $200, but for that fee you are given a non-refundable ticket that not only gets you up close and personal with players, but also food, beverage and access to games and auctions.
Video: 2019 Ice and Dice
As a special perk, season ticket holders can purchase tickets at a discounted rate during an exclusive window that runs from Monday at 10 a.m. until Wednesday at 10 a.m., at which point tickets will become available to the general public. For more information, please click HERE.
A HELPING HAND
The people of the Bahamas need your help.
In an effort to assist those affected by Hurricane Dorian -- the strongest hurricane to ever strike the Bahamas -- the Panthers have partnered with UNICEF USA to raise funds for relief efforts.
"We are heartbroken over what has happened to our neighbors in the Bahamas and encourage our fans and members of the South Florida community to donate in support of these relief efforts," Panthers President & CEO Matthew Caldwell said in a release. "This is a critical time and every donation makes a difference."
Working alongside the Bahamas' National Emergency Management Agency, a UNICEF team has already been dispatched to rapidly assess humanitarian needs to the estimated 17,000 children and their families who were affected by the hurricane's incredible devastation.
To make a donation or to learn more about UNICEF, click HERE.
Every little bit helps!
CATS CLIP OF THE WEEK
The ice is back at BB&T Center!
Check out the time lapse below to see how the magic happens.
Video: 2019-20 Paint the Ice Time Lapse
CATS IN THE COMMUNITY
With more than a decade of covering the Panthers to his credit, The Athletic's George Richards joined last week's episode of the Territory Talk podcast to talk about everything from Roberto Luongo's legacy to which prospects he's most looking forward to watching at rookie camp.
COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)
-- The LATAM Cup was a hit among both Panthers players and fans.
-- Mike Hoffman's pin-point accuracy extends beyond the rink.
-- In the latest installment of "Panther Postcards," Jonathan Huberdeau checks in with fans while representing the team at the NHL's annual Player Media Tour in Chicago.
-- The Panthers have announced their Community Drives for the upcoming season.
-- Does the perfect "Flex Plan" exist? I gave it my best shot.
-- A whopping 81 Panthers games will be broadcast on FOX Sports Florida in 2019-20.
-- The Panthers are making it easier than ever for fans to enjoy the team's history.
-- Colton Sceviour can already feel the excitement among his Panthers teammates.
-- Sergei Bobrovsky is one of the top-two goaltenders in the NHL, according to NHL Network.