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Rats Roundup: Signings, Worlds and More

by Kyle Morrison / Florida Panthers


Welcome back to Rats Roundup; keeping you caught up on Panthers content since… well, earlier in 2016. Let’s see what happened over the last seven days in Sunrise.

The biggest news from this week is the re-signing of defenseman Erik Gudbranson. The 6-foot-5 blueliner signed on for another year in South Florida, and he’ll continue to provide a physicality in the Panthers end that few others in the league can bring.



That’s not the only deal that got done this week. The Panthers also re-signed forward Shane Harper and inked goalie Samuel Montembeault to an entry-level deal.

REUNION RETROSPECTIVE



One of the most memorable moments of the Panthers playoff run was the surprise military reunion during the first period of Game 5. US Air Force Staff Sergeant Zach Lieberman came home from overseas to surprise his mother – and a packed arena – during a TV timeout, leading to raucous applause and more than a few tears.

Turns out, there was a lot of planning – and even more luck – that went into pulling this off.

We caught up with the Liebermans – Zach, his mother, Heidi, and his father, Ron – for a feature on what went down behind-the-scenes that day from each of their perspectives.

TROCH REWIND



Last week, we kicked off our Season Rewind series with a look at Aleksander Barkov’s performance. This week, it was Vincent Trocheck, and it’s a nice look at the 22-year-old’s breakout season.

This was his first full NHL campaign, and a very memorable one. But even cooler is the serendipity of Trocheck, a Pittsburgh native, getting to spend it learning from his childhood idol, Jaromir Jagr.

"You never think in years that when you’re one-year old, or whenever you’re born, that there’s a guy in the NHL winning Stanley Cups. Then, you turn 20 years old, and he’s still in the NHL and you’re playing with him.”
 
Trocheck also talks about the chemistry between him and his linemates for most of the season – Jussi Jokinen and Reilly Smith – as well as all of the work that went into getting to the game’s top level.

SUPER SAVES

Trocheck’s season rewind wasn’t the only noteworthy retrospective on our site this week. We also compiled the top 10 saves of the season.

And when a team has a stellar netminder like Roberto Luongo, and one of the league’s best backups in Al Montoya, there are quite a few saves to choose from.



So, if goalie highlights are your thing, click here to see the full list.

CATS AT WORLDS

What a week it was for Mike Matheson.

Currently over in Russia playing for Team Canada in the IIHF World Championship tournament, the 22-year-old defenseman is coming into his own. He’s got five points in four games for the Canadian team, including a ridiculous four-point game against Belarus.

Canada is one of just two teams with four regulation wins through four games. The other? Well, it’s the only other one with Panthers in the lineup.

That’s right, Finland has been playing like a well-oiled machine, thanks in large part to Aleksander Barkov and Jussi Jokinen. Much of the Suomi attack has run through the two Cats, as Jokinen (five) and Barkov (three) have combined for eight assists through four games. Barkov’s also tallied a goal for the undefeated Finns.

GIF OF THE WEEK



Matheson’s performance over in Russia earned him the prestigious Rats Roundup GIF of the Week honor. This slapshot goal got a bit of a lucky bounce off of Belarusian defender Oleg Yevenko’s stick, but it still counts, and it’s mesmerizing to look at.


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