Well, you’ve made it to Friday. And to July! With that, the 2016 calendar year is somehow already halfway over. But before you have an existential crisis over just how quickly time does pass us by, at least finish reading this and catching up on a busy week for the Panthers.
With free agency opening today, you could see some new faces added to the Cats lineup in the coming weeks. That, of course, is in addition to the newest members of the team, added over the past weekend.
The last week has seen Keith Yandle sign a seven-year contract, a trade for right handed defenseman Mark Pysyk, plus a new class of Cats draft picks. And on the eve of the draft, the Panthers swung a trade for goalie Reto Berra.
As you may recall, Yandle’s negotiating rights were acquired in exchange for a 2016 sixth-round pick and a conditional 2017 draft pick. And the Panthers brass struck while the iron was hot, using the negotiating window to get Yandle locked up to a long-term deal.
The 29-year-old blueliner is in it for the long haul now, and he’s got his eyes on the greatest trophy in sports.
Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy blog has a breakdown of Yandle’s impact – especially on the powerplay – and his excitement about playing with Aaron Ekblad.
As for the youngsters picked selected during last weekend’s NHL Draft, our liveblog (well, not “live” anymore, but c'est la vie) has profiles of each pick. It’s also got a pretty incredible Snapchat cameo from fourth-round pick Jonathan Ang.
A few more interesting notes from this year’s draft class:
- First-round pick Henrik Borgström is headed to University of Denver, where he will play alongside Panthers prospect and current Denver goaltender Evan Cowley
- Borgström listed “rats” as his biggest fear. It’s unclear if that covers celebratory plastic rats, though.
- We posted a behind-the-scenes video covering Borgström’s draft experience, and it will brighten literally anybody’s day.
- Fifth-rounder Riley Stillman’s father, Cory, played for the Panthers, recording 109 points in 165 games for the Cats.
- Although this is not completely confirmed, fourth-rounder Jonathan Ang is thought to be the first player of Malaysian heritage to be selected in the draft.
BIG THINGS IN CORAL SPRINGS
This really comes as no surprise, but the Panthers IceDen is quickly becoming one of the most happening spots in all of South Florida.
The masses descended on the Panther Point Bar & Grill on Friday – and consumed a hearty amount of sliders, wings and other finger-food greatness – for the Cats draft party. The next day, round one of Roar Corps auditions were held on one of the sheets of ice.
But even after a busy weekend, it looks like the folks in Coral Springs are just getting warmed up.
For example, Logan Shaw spent the week guest instructing a hockey school. Next up on the guest instructor list? None other than Mike Matheson, World Champion™.
And in just ten short days, you’ll get your first look at this year’s draft class, as our prospect development camp opens up at the Panthers Iceden on June 11.
GIF of the WEEK
Another week, another installment of our Season Rewind feature. This week, we took a look back on the breakout season of winger Reilly Smith. Acquired last offseason, Smith talked about his chemistry with linemates Jussi Jokinen and Vincent Trocheck, plus the feature has insight on his stats, his improvement over last year and much more.
To celebrate this, we had to break open the “Reilly Smith Incredible Goal GIFs” folder. After some deliberation, this one earned the Rats Roundup GIF of the Week honor.
- Some more contract news: forward Greg McKegg signed a one-year contract earlier this week. Also signing one-year deals were goalie Sam Brittain and forward Connor Brickley
- Group sales are open, so check that out and set up an extremely memorable experience for your friends, family or coworkers.
- Roberto Luongo’s brother Leo was named the goaltending coach of our AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds.
- Behind-the-scenes with Aleksander Barkov at the NHL Awards? Yeah, the video is just as great as you’d expect.