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D-Camp Notebook: Hutsko Ready to Play; Sourdif Making Strides

by Jameson Olive @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

2021 Development Camp: Day 4

2021 Development Camp: Day 4

Forwards Logan Hutsko, Justin Sourdif and Karch Bachman all share and discuss their experience at 2021 Development Camp

  • 02:15 •

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. - These prospects are itching for the puck to drop.

Following the fourth on-ice session of development camp on Tuesday at the Panthers IceDen, forward Logan Hutsko said he and his fellow campers are already looking forward to putting their skills to the test against stiff competition in the upcoming Prospect Showcase Tournament.

Slated to run from Sep. 18-21 at AdventHealth Center Ice across the state in Wesley Chapel, the event will feature top prospects from the Panthers, Hurricanes, Predators and Lightning.

Over the course of four days, all four teams will play each other once.

"I think just getting things out of the way and going to play in this tournament is going to be a lot of fun," Hutsko said. "I think that's what we all really came here to do, to play games and get the season going. Getting this tune-up before has been good, so I think we're all excited to get going."

Tweet from @JamesonCoop: It took a few tries, but Lundell and Hutsko team up to get one past Knight. pic.twitter.com/qQI5AQLG5B

For Hutsko, the excitement has been brewing ever since he signed with the Panthers in March.

Originally selected in the third round (89th overall) of the 2018 NHL Draft, the laidback 22-year-old played four seasons at Boston College before putting pen to paper on a two-year, entry-level contract, registering 101 points (41 goals, 60 assists) over 114 career games with the Eagles.

While in school, Hutsko said he was able to grow as a person just as much as a player.

"I think Boston College puts a big emphasis on who you are as a person and how you carry yourself and your character," he said. "There's a lot of hockey development there, but there's a lot of personal development, too. I think I'm now able to just go into pro with the right mindset."

And although his senior season was cut short due to an injury, Hutsko, now fully healthy and in the "best shape" he's ever been in as he prepares to play in the pros, does believe there was a silver lining to that abrupt end as he was able to get a head start on the next step of his career.

Even though camp only just began, he's been hard at work for months.

"Getting to do that was a blessing," he said. "I think the biggest thing was turning the page. For me, it was tough to have my college [career] end before I thought it would, but being able to turn the page and look forward to what's next helped me keep a positive mindset."

Born in Tampa, Hutsko said he expects to see quite a few of his family members - including his grandma - once the Panthers get settled upon their arrival at the tournament in Wesley Chapel, which is located only about 30 minutes away from where he traditionally spends his offseason.

Until then, he's counting down the days until the games get underway.

"My goals for myself are pretty simple," Hutsko said. "I just want to bring a good effort and a good attitude every day and let the rest take care of itself. I'm just focusing on those two things."

To get an inside look at Hutsko's camp, click HERE

SOURDIF MAKING STRIDES

With last year's camp cancelled due to COVID-19, Justin Sourdif couldn't wait to get to South Florida for the first time since being drafted by the Cats in the third round (87th overall) in 2020.

"It's been a pretty surreal experience so far, unbelievable being down in South Florida," he said of attending his first camp. "I've never been here. It's a great state. I'm not used to the sunshine. Coming from Vancouver around this time of the year, it's pretty awesome to be on the beach."

While the weather is certainly a tad colder in Canada, Sourdif has been heating up back home.

Producing at better than a point-per-game pace for the first time in his junior career in the WHL, the 19-year-old forward paced Vancouver in scoring with 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) in 34 games, becoming one of just two players on the team to reach the 30-point plateau in 2020-21.

Safe to say he took a step forward?

"I definitely feel I did," Sourdif said. "I was really focused on just maturing on and off the ice, becoming a leader on my team and just kind of treating my career like a pro. I've kind of made that jump from being a teenager to becoming a young man. I thought I did a pretty good job."

It isn't only fans of the Giants that have been taking notice of Sourdif's development.

This past summer, he was one of just 51 players invited to attend Hockey Canada's National Junior Team Summer Development Camp. While there, prospect writer Scott Wheeler of The Athletic said that he "had one of the best camps" and thinks "there's probably a role for him."

As far as Sourdif's goals for the season go, earning a place on Canada's roster is near the top. "It's definitely a goal of mine to make that team come December," said Sourdif, who last played internationally with a maple leaf on his sweater at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

"I'm going to be looking for a hot start here with the Vancouver Giants and try to do my best to help the team out, reach our ultimate goal there and then try to make that World Junior team."

BACHMAN BEING LEADER

Karch Bachman said he's been embracing his role as a veteran leader at this year's camp.

Working his way up the pipeline ever since he was taken in the fifth round (132nd overall) in 2015, the 24-year-old forward is not only focused on his own career path, but also doing his best to make sure some of the younger prospects in the system avoid any potential pitfalls.

"Helping the younger guys out with all the little details of what the coaches expect, starting the drills and stuff, it's definitely part of the role I play in this organization," said Bachman, who attended his first camp with Florida six years ago. "I'm thankful to have that opportunity."

Following four seasons at Miami University (Ohio), Bachman's first foray into the pros, like so many others, was turned upside down by COVID-19. Initially hoping to fight for a spot in the AHL, he soon found himself in the ECHL after Charlotte was forced to cancel its campaign.

Not deterred, he went on to score 10 goals in 32 games as a rookie with Greenville.

"It's good hockey," Bachman said of the ECHL. "Especially last year with a lot of teams opting out, the talent was high, and the competition level was high with guys playing for jobs. I really enjoyed it. It was hard, fast hockey. In that league, you play tons of games, especially last year."

Known for having an elite set of wheels ever since he was drafted, one of the biggest things that Bachman had to adjust to in the pros was learning a brand-new role. The year before, he'd been a top-six player at Miami, racking up 10 goals, and 21 assists in 34 games with the RedHawks. But with the Swamp Rabbits, he was back to being more of a physical bottom-six role player.

But it's that versatility, he says, that will help him the most during his second pro season.

"You learn a lot of different things over the years," Bachman said. "For me, my game has always revolved around my skating and my speed. Just kind of learning the ins and outs of some of the details in the pro game, you learn something from all these guys."

Arriving to South Florida with some extra time before camp opened, Bachman also said he benefitted greatly from being able to join some informal skates with a few Panthers players. During those sessions, he was able to "pick up on tricks from guys like Barkov and Hornqvist," which he has since added to his toolbox and will continue to refine in the coming campaign.

Still getting his feet wet, Bachman is looking for new lessons wherever he can.

"It's rare to be able to learn those things quickly," he said. "I've tried when I made that jump to pro to pick up as much as I could."

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