It very well may go down as one of the biggest days in the franchise's history.
On Friday the Panthers picked up two players at key positions: goalie and defense. Friday also showed everyone the two major factors that lead to winning teams...management's willingness to make major deals and the hockey department's competence.
GM Jacques Martin pulled the trigger on the Tomas Vokoun trade. The Cats get an elite goaltender that is signed for the next four seasons so we all will not have to deal with a goalie contract for a long time. We're all happy about that, right? Assistant GM Randy Sexton deserves a great deal of credit here. He is an instrumental part of the hockey staff and no doubt had input on this deal and played a role in getting it done. Panther management is clearly showing it wants to bring a winner to South Florida and not just a one year wonder. The franchise is as stable as it has ever been and with long term contracts being given out to numerous key players we know who will be here for the forseeable future. Yes Panther fans you can go out and buy that jersey of your favorite player...he will be here for a long time!
In the draft the Cats selected defenseman Keaton Ellerby
. A big western Canadian, Ellerby's a super skater and plays with that nasty edge you need on the blueline. Before the draft I didn't think the Panthers would be able to get him at #10 but Friday proved to be the "Day of the Cat".
Optimism reigned supreme at the draft party Friday night at the Hard Rock. Nathan Horton was there for hours hanging out with the fans and the crowd cheered wildly for him, the announcement of the Vokoun trade and the Ellerby pick. Remember the day June 22, 2007...it could turn out to be a huge one in Panther history.