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Development Camp Gets Underway

by Patrick McGrath / Florida Panthers

Day one of Florida Panthers Development Camp was today at the Florida Panthers IceDen, in Coral Springs. Monday’s on-ice workout consisted mainly of skating drills with some passing work and full ice drills sprinkled in at the end.

The players were split into two groups, alternating between the on-ice workout and an outdoor training session.

The Red Team got things started, getting on the ice at 1:15 p.m. The group was highlighted by Aleksander Barkov and also included forwards, Connor Brickley, Rocco Grimaldi, defenseman Mike Matheson and goaltenders Evan Cowley and Colin Stevens.

The Blue Team got started at 3:00 p.m. and featured first overall pick in the 2014 Draft, Aaron Ekblad. Joining Ekblad were fellow 2014 NHL draftmates Jayce Hawryluk,(2nd round, 32nd overall) Juho Lammikko, (3rd round, 65th overall) Joe Wegwerth,(4th round, 92nd overall) and Miguel Fidler (5th round, 143rd overall).

Day one began with some skating drills as the players loosened up and worked on their edges. After about a half hour the groups moved to quick passing drills, using both weighted and regular pucks. From there the players moved into some full ice shooting drills.

Overall, each session lasted about an hour and was very fast paced with the coaches moving from drill to drill without wasting any time.

Earlier in the morning, all the players underwent a medical screening and a physical test at the practice facility gym.

The players will take the ice again tomorrow morning from 9 a.m. – noon. The on-ice session will be followed by an afternoon trip to Whole Foods where the players will learn about healthy eating habits.

Quick Hits

· Two camp invitees from Union College’s national championship squad were on the ice with the first group; forward Mike Vecchione and goaltender Colin Stevens. Vecchione received cheers and sticktaps from his fellow skaters after skillfully completing a particularly difficult stickhandling drill.

· The two Florida natives participating in camp both skated today, defenseman Colin Suellentrop from Plantation, FL, skated with the Red Team in the early session while forward Cody Payne from Weston, FL, was with the Blue Team in the second session.

· Former Panthers defenseman and current Manager of Player Development, Bryan McCabe, was on the ice coaching during the second session and got a first-hand look at Ekblad.

“He is a very skilled individual and mature for his age so we’ll see how he does at camp.” McCabe said.

· Russian forward Yaroslav Kosov skated with the Red Team in the early session. The 6’3” forward spent the last three seasons in the KHL and impressed today with his blend of size and speed.

· Aaron Ekblad on day one: “It was good. I felt a little bit rusty, obviously not a lot of us are at full skating pace yet, but hopefully over the course of the week, it will get better and better.”

· Aleksander Barkov on meeting Panthers draft pick and fellow Fin, Juho Lammikko: “I met him [today], and we are already friends.”

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