Good morning and welcome to “Cats & Coffee,” a weekly segment in which we get you caffeinated with an exciting look at the week ahead for the Florida Panthers.
It’s time to honor the old and welcome the new as the Florida Panthers are set to partake in both the NHL Awards and NHL Entry Draft during the upcoming week.
Hosted by actor Will Arnett and featuring a musical performance by X Ambassadors, the 2016 NHL Awards will be broadcast live on NBCSN on Wednesday, June 22 at 7 p.m. ET from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
The annual event will honor the best regular-season players in a wide range of categories, including most valuable player (Hart Trophy), outstanding goaltender (Vezina Trophy), outstanding defenseman (Norris Trophy) and outstanding rookie (Calder Trophy).
A year removed from Aaron Ekblad’s historic Calder Trophy win, the Panthers are once again poised to take home some serious hardware, as forwards Aleksander Barkov (Lady Byng) and Jaromir Jagr (Masterton), as well as head coach Gerard Gallant (Jack Adams), are all finalists for major awards.
“I think one of Gerard’s biggest attributes isn’t what he does do in the room, but what he doesn’t,” center Derek MacKenzie said of Gallant’s Coach of the Year nomination. “He allows the guys to control the room and do what we feel is best… I think it’s because of the way that he’s treated us that we certainly feel obligated to do what we can every night to win.”
You can find our full NHL Awards preview here.
Once the awards wrap up, the Panthers – hopefully with a few new trophies stored neatly in their overhead bins – will head to the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y., for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
The first round of the draft will take place Friday, June 24 at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, with Rounds 2 through 7 running the following day starting at 10 a.m. ET on NHL Network.
After setting franchise records for wins (47) and points (103), while also capturing the Atlantic Division title, the Panthers will take their seat on the draft floor with six potential picks in their pocket, including the 23rd and 33rd overall selections.
“I think it’s a pretty solid draft class,” Panthers President of Hockey Operations Dale Tallon told FloridaPanthers.com after the visiting the NHL Draft Combine earlier this month. “I think we’re going to get two really good players. We’re in good shape and we’re going to keep adding depth to our already deep depth chart. We’re really excited about it.”
What draftees might be soon calling South Florida home? Well, if you really must know, I suggest you check back on Thursday to catch FloridaPanthers.com’s full draft preview.
COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)
The Panthers recently hired Richard Pollock as a professional scout and Josh Weissbock as a prospect consultant.
The Panthers will play seven preseason games, including a matchup with the New Jersey Devils at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., on Oct. 8. You can find the team’s full preseason schedule here.
The Panthers joined forces with OneBlood – an Orlando-based blood bank – and the City of Sunrise to put on a blood drive at the BB&T Center this past weekend to support victims of the recent tragedy in Orlando.