A floridapanthers.com exclusive, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon will be sharing his thoughts with Panthers and hockey fans throughout the year in his blog entitled G.M. Journal.
It has been an eventful week for our organization thus far. Thanks to Stephen Weiss
’ overtime goal Tuesday night, your Panthers are on a two-game win streak, and have won three of the last five games. Tonight, we’re in Washington to play the high-powered Capitals, before heading to Nashville, and then back home for a two-game set.
Tuesday night’s game against Colorado was certainly a treat for the nearly 13,000 fans in attendance. Not only did they see seven total goals, including a spectacular game winner in the extra session, but it was also exciting for original Panthers Captain and current Director of Player Development Brian Skrudland, and former Colorado Avalanche Captain Joe Sakic to drop the ceremonial puck as part of 1996 Throwback Night at the BankAtlantic Center.
As I’ve said previously, it’s important for this organization to honor it’s past whenever possible, and the 1996 Eastern Conference Championship team certainly made a mark on the this region and the entire sports community.
On the ice, our players showed some of the resiliency that former Panthers teams were known for, particularly after going down 3-2 early in the third period before coming back to win in overtime.
Now it’s important to try and keep the momentum going on the road for the next two games, before we head back to South Florida to face division-rival Carolina on Wednesday.
But while we remain focused on the present, it’s also important for us to maintain an eye toward the future, particularly toward the World Junior Championship that will take place in Buffalo in late December an early January.
Our franchise should be well represented, with no less than seven players on the preliminary rosters for the competing nations including: defenseman Erik Gudbranson
and forwards Quinton Howden
and Garrett Wilson
for Canada, forwards Nick Bjugstad
, Connor Brickley
and Drew Shore
for the United States, and forward Joonas Donskoi
Not only will it be entertaining for Cats fans to watch potential future stars compete on behalf of their respective countries, but it will also be a good time to consider the blueprint we have in place to achieve our goals as an NHL franchise.
One of the keys to achieving those goals – making the playoffs and contending for a Stanley Cup – is building through the draft by selecting quality young prospects and developing those players in a strong farm system. As talented as Gudbranson, Howden, Bjugstad and others are, without a strong development infrastructure and positive environment, it will be more difficult for them to reach their potential as NHL players.
Panthers fans have seen that before, and we can’t afford to continue to make those mistakes as an organization. That’s why people such as Skrudland, Rochester coach Chuck Weber, Director of Amateur Scouting Scott Luce, and all of our scouts and hockey operations staff, are so important to the organization. They will all play instrumental roles in developing our young players, and as I always say, I’d be happy if I had 25 originally drafted Panthers playing for us and helping us achieve our goals. That’s part of the plan, a plan that we know has been successful in the past, namely in Chicago.
That said, if it’s in the best interest of our franchise, we expect to have some flexibility in free agency this summer to acquire players that want to be Panthers and want to be part of the solution here.
Since I became General Manager in May, we’ve taken some significant steps forward. As fans, you can see that the effort is there on a nightly basis, the style of play is exciting and aggressive, but you can also see that there is plenty of room for improvement, and many more steps to take.
We’ve put ourselves in a good position to take those steps, now it comes down to execution, and we are all looking forward to the challenge.