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Competition Makes You Stronger

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers

It's the old adage that "competition makes you stronger".

That fits the Panthers organization, especially when looking at the future.

Florida concluded it's summer Development Camp last week and the competition both on and off the ice was intense. In fact, it's the best that Panthers GM Dale Tallon has seen since he's joined the organization two years ago. Three very successful drafts which has added 28 players to the system will do that. Adding players with talent, size, speed and character to the organization's system has bumped up the competition levels.

"This is great. We're getting deeper and deeper," said Tallon following the close of Camp on Friday. "Every year it is better and better. The competition level is fierce. It's an exciting time for our franchise."

Of those 28 draft picks over the last three years, 16 have come in the first three rounds, five in the top 30 picks. It's no wonder that Hockey's Future ranked the Panthers as having the best organizational depth in each of their last two rankings.

"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," said Panthers Director of Scouting Scott Luce. "Once again, it's an overall success. For the new guys coming in, Dale has established a culture that the bar is where it's at."

With only 23 players making up an NHL roster, at max, a lot of the players realize that the supply (roster spot) is much less than the demand (number of players looking for one) in terms of locking up a spot in the future.

"It's not only spots on the big club but it's also spots for contracts. We had two very successful drafts in regards to quantity of players and we had another draft, this past draft, we didn't have as many picks as the previous two," said Luce. "So when you look at that the quantity of high-end prospects battling for specific number of contracts in any given year over the next three years is going to be very significant.

"We've got a lot of tough decisions moving forward on who to sign, when to sign. We have to manage that and put the different puzzle pieces together accordingly on a year-to-year basis."

Those that were in attendance at Development Camp are well aware of the competition for those spots. They'll head back home to train and get better, just trying to make sure they take that next step to earning a spot in Florida.

"I think it's a great thing. We have better new guys coming in every year and I think it's only going up for this organization," said 2011 third round pick Vincent Trocheck (64th overall). "It showed in the rankings, we were number one future team prospects and I think it definitely shows."

And even if a player won't be attempting to make the leap to the pros this upcoming season, it doesn't mean that the Panthers brass will give them a reprieve about their immediate futures.

"Some are going back to college and some are going to Juniors and some are going back to Europe. We've got them from all different walks of life," said Tallon. "They know that they're fighting for jobs down the road.

"You keep a book on these kids and how they performed and how they progressed and who wants it the most and how they compete against each other. You keep a file on these young guys and they know that. They know there's going to be competition for jobs."

But as Tallon told the players at the close of camp, if they're up for the challenge both as individuals and as a group, good things ahead are to be expected.

"I told these kids that I'm very proud of them," said Tallon. "A lot of good players. A lot of top notch people fighting for jobs…Nothing but good news for us as far as the future is concerned with the talent we do have coming and the character that we do have coming."

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