Good afternoon, and welcome back to another exciting edition!
Since the last exciting edition, we’ve had a few noteworthy contract signings. Jaromir Jagr and Erik Gudbranson are back, which is huge news considering each one was a key contributor for the Atlantic Division Champions this past season. Also, goalie Sam Montembeault signed a three-year entry level contract yesterday. The contract signings, along with the progress shown by Mike Matheson, as well as Aleksander Barkov and Jussi Jokinen’s work in the ongoing World Championships, are among the most important things happening right now.
MOST IMPORTANT THINGS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW
-Jagr led the Panthers in points with 66 during a season that saw him turn 44 in February. What’s more? Aside from elevating to third place on the NHL’s all-time goals and points lists, Jagr was able to raise his point production during what was already an all-star season, as he scored 12 times and averaged exactly a point-per-game over 33 games after the all-star break. Another example of Jagr’s consistent point production during the ’15-16 campaign: he posted at least one point against all but two of the other teams in the league. Only Nashville and Pittsburgh held Jagr off the scoresheet this season, while Jagr amassed six points against the Sabres, and five points against Canadiens, Devils, and Senators. Just a few milestones Jagr will be approaching when the ’16-17 season begins: Jagr could pass four players on the all-time games played list next season, which would place him in fourth place by season’s end; his 1,119 assists are 16 behind Paul Coffey, who’s fifth all-time; and Jagr, with 1,868 points, is 19 points behind second-place Mark Messier on the all-time list.
-Gudbranson signed a one-year deal last week, and based on his ’15-16 performance, is well on his way to being one of the league’s premier defensive players. Gudbranson was a key contributor on the Panthers penalty kill units, and his physical play always keeps opponents honest. Remember his hit on Chicago’s Teuvo Teravainen on January 22nd at the BB&T Center? That may have been the hit of the year. He brings great leadership, and it’s easy to forget how young he still is; he won’t turn 25 until January, and has 309 regular season games under his belt. Gudbranson averaged a career-high 20:07 of ice time during the ’15-16 season, and was a workhorse for Gerard Gallant during the playoffs, averaging 26:54 of ice time during the first round series against the Islanders, which saw three overtime affairs.
-Montembeault was a third round pick of the Panthers (77th overall) in 2015, and the 19-year old goaltender signed his three-year entry level deal with the Panthers this week. Montembeault posted a 2.45 goals against average and .925 save percentage in 11 playoff games for Blainville-Boisbriand of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Montembeault was top-10 in the QMJHL in both goals against average (2.63) and save percentage (.901) during the regular season.
-Barkov and Jokinen have combined for seven points through the first three games of the IIHF World Championships; all wins for their native Finland. Barkov has three assists, while Jokinen has posted four helpers.
-Matheson has two goals and two assists through three games at the World Championships for Team Canada. Matheson burst onto the scene for the Panthers in the first round playoff series against the Islanders, teaming up with Aaron Ekblad on defense and averaging 21:41 in five games during the first round series. Matheson played 27:29 in game six against the Islanders, and 32:18 in game five. His skating ability is off the charts, he’s confident, and makes great passes up the ice quickly. His poise and calmness make him appear to be well beyond his years.
-Folks, if you aren’t familiar with the annual baseball trip, well it’s time to get familiarized. My friend Adrian Denny (VP of Broadcasting for the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies) and I have been hitting the road for about a week every Summer since 2012, and we’ve almost knocked out all 30 current Major League ballparks. #BaseballTrip16 launches on May 26th. After an opening act of Florida State League action in Jupiter, we’ll visit Tropicana Field, Turner Field, partake in a second round of Tropicana Field, and cap it off with a pair of Marlins games. Feel free to Tweet me @DougPlagens or Adrian @GrizzliesVoice during the trip. Past baseball trip routes: Cubs-Royals-Cardinals-Brewers-White Sox in 2012; A’s-Angels-Giants-Dodgers-Padres in 2013; Red Sox-Mets-Nationals-Phillies-Yankees-Pirates in 2014; Reds-Braves-Memphis (AAA)-Royals-White Sox-Indians in 2015.
-I ventured up to Jacksonville for the annual “Welcome to Rockville” Festival on April 30th and May 1st. A Day To Remember was awesome as usual. So were Parkway Drive, Bring Me The Horizon, We Came As Romans, Miss May I, Beartooth, Memphis May Fire… wow, that’s a long list, but it was such a great festival. I’d highly recommend it. I also couldn’t believe how good Asking Alexandria has gotten with their live performance. And Bullet For My Valentine! They’ve always been one of my favorite bands ever. I also got to see Megadeth for the first time, which was enjoyable.
-Lots of good shows lining up before the Warped Tour Season: I’m excited to see Deftones for the first time on Friday, which will also be my first time at the Pompano Beach Ampitheatre. I’ll see Millencolin for the first time since November of 2003 in about a week and a half, and in June I’ll see Refused for the first time. And I saw The Front Bottoms at Revolution last night!
-As always, keep the Tweets coming @DougPlagens.
‘Til next time, folks. That’ll do it from here.