The Florida Panthers believe that Colton Sceviour’s best years are still ahead of him.
A fourth-round pick (112th overall) of the Stars in the 2007 NHL Draft, the 27-year-old forward spent the past two seasons with Dallas, recording a total of 49 points (20-29—49) while playing in 71 games during each of those two campaigns.
Sceviour, who signed a two-year deal with Florida on July 1, was considered by many to be one of the better depth forwards available on the free agent market this summer, but could potentially prove to be much more than that for the Panthers during the upcoming season.
A hard-working player with an underrated shot, Sceviour surpassed the 50-point plateau three times during his tenure in the American Hockey League, and at least one of his new Panthers teammates believes that a lot of that offensive magic is still there, waiting to be unleashed.
"Colton is an all-around player who was definitely — if not the best — one of the best players on the Texas Stars. He could be put in any situation and succeed," said Panthers forward Reilly Smith, who played with Sceviour on the Dallas Stars' AHL affiliate in 2012-13.
"He can score goals, that's for sure, and is also a good defensive player. It sounds like he's probably put more hours on his defensive game with Dallas. He hasn't really been given an opportunity [offensively] from what I've seen or heard in the NHL. Once he does get that opportunity, he'll start to thrive."
Following an introductory press conference at the BB&T Center in July, Sceviour sat down with FloridaPanthers.com’s Jameson Olive to discuss everything from fighting for a roster spot to sharing a locker room with future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr.OLIVE:
How exciting is it to be joining the Panthers at a time when it looks as if hockey is really beginning to take off in Florida?SCEVIOUR:
Tampa made some runs the last couple years, and now you see (the Panthers) making some moves and making a lot of strides. We’ve made a lot of offseason moves to keep going in the right direction. It’s an exciting time to be a hockey fan in Florida, for sure. I’m excited for it.OLIVE:
You scored 20-plus goals in three consecutive seasons during your time in the AHL. What do you believe, if anything, is holding you back from finding that same offensive success at the NHL level?
I’ve always thought that I can produce offensively at the NHL level, which is easier to say that than it is to get the opportunity because there are so many good players. The situation in Dallas wasn’t an opportunity to play a whole lot of offense because I had more of a fourth-line role. You can see that there is a lot of opportunity (with the Panthers) on the third line and there’s going to be a lot of competition -- there are a lot of young kids, a lot of prospects, a lot of new guys that just signed here. There’s going to be a lot of guys trying to make a statement and take that spot. I’ve got an opportunity to try and earn it.OLIVE:
As you already alluded to, the Panthers are expected to have a lot of hungry forwards looking to lock up roster spots during training camp. What do you think you need to do to secure the spot you want in the lineup?SCEVIOUR:
I’ve been around long enough to not take anything for granted. You can see the fact that (the Panthers) want to win and they’re not just going to give someone ice time just because. I think you’re going to see a lot of different combinations in training camp, trying to figure out who works well together and who plays well. That’s going to really determine who plays and what role. It’s all about trying to win. Any opportunity you get to help the team do that is the goal.OLIVE:
How important was it for you to sign a multi-year deal?SCEVIOUR:
It’s nice. Last year, it was kind of always kind of in the back of my head. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, where I was going, or what the summer was going to hold. As much as you try not to think about it, you can’t help but, you know, think about it a little bit. To get a multi-year deal is always nice because you know there’s a little bit of stability in that, at least as much as there is in pro sports. It’s super exciting and you want to stay around here as long as you can when you see the way this team is trending.OLIVE:
Panthers GM Tom Rowe said that he envisions you as a player that can be successfully deployed in any situation. What does it mean for him to show that kind of confidence in you?
That was a big thing. I wanted to come to a team that was in a position to win and a team that I could help win to the best of my ability. If I can find a way to play on the third line and help the team on the penalty kill or the power play, then that’s what I want to do. That’s what helps the team the most and that’s what we’re going for. It’s exciting.
You were certainly a big part of the penalty kill in Dallas last season, averaging 1:40 of shorthanded ice time per game. Are you hoping to have a similar special teams role with the Panthers?SCEVIOUR:
I think that was something I learned a lot about last year. We ended up having one of the better PKs in the NHL, and that was something I built off and something I’d like to contribute to this team as well.
The Stars and Panthers both won their respective divisions last season. Do you see any similarities between the two up-and-coming clubs?SCEVIOUR:
This team looks very similar to the way Dallas did a couple of years ago, when we made the playoffs but lost in the first round. You could see right after that they took a turn. I see Florida doing the same thing. That first year is exciting to just get in, but when you lose it really (stinks). The next year and the years following is always a bit of a burr in the saddle, as they say, to get back.OLIVE:
Burr in the saddle… Is that a Texas term you’re bringing to South Florida?SCEVIOUR:
Western Canada term -- let’s leave it at that [laughs].OLIVE:
You briefly crossed paths with Jaromir Jagr during your time in Dallas. What does it mean to once again be sharing a locker room with one of hockey’s all-time great forwards?SCEVIOUR:
I sat beside him in the dressing room for like a week and a half in Dallas at one point. I honestly don’t even know if he’d remember it [laughs]. It’s pretty exciting. I think that’s the question I got the most when people found out that I signed in Florida, everyone was like “Jags is there!” Everyone is fascinated with him. Then the conversation usually end with them saying they’re coming down to visit [laughs].OLIVE:
Will you be on autograph duty during those visits?SCEVIOUR:
I might have to steal a stick or something. I don’t have any stuff like that, but I think that’s the guy that if you’re going to take a stick and start a collection, he’s probably the one you go with.