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Rats Roundup - World Cup Updates, Huberdeau Commits

by Kyle Morrison / Florida Panthers

This just in: Team North America is really good. That news shouldn’t be surprising considering that Aaron Ekblad and Vincent Trocheck are on the roster.

Well, the team of youngsters began their quest to take the World Cup last night (sort of), as they took down Team Europe 4-0 in their first exhibition game. Ekblad notched a primary assist on the first goal of the game — a Nathan MacKinnon strike – and was a key cog on the defensive unit that shut down Team Europe all night.

Ekblad’s also flexing his leadership traits, as he was named one of the team’s alternate captains. Those same traits earned him praise from Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt, who profiled Ekblad this week.

The key takeaway? Aside from Ekblad’s pregame meal including exactly one cookie, it’s his commitment to the organization and the area.

“It’s probably not the best negotiating tactic to come out and say it, but I always wanted to be in Ft. Lauderdale and Sunrise and play for the Florida Panthers,” he says. “I tried to make that known as much as possible and I think the team responded well to that. Their commitment to myself and my commitment to the team, I think it’s a great fit. I’m very happy."

Prewitt wasn’t the only one to write about Ekblad this week, as an up-and-coming blogger did as well. An NHL.com writer by the name of Aaron Ekblad.

That’s right, Ekblad’s writing a blog series documenting his World Cup experience. Keep your eyes peeled for further installments, but the first one is live. And here’s some bonus news for those who enjoy quality #content – Aleksander Barkov is also blogging about his experience for the Suomi squad. (Here’s his first post.)

Speaking of Barkov, he notched a goal and an assist in Team Finland’s opening 3-2 overtime win over the Swedes. Jussi Jokinen – who, like Ekblad, is an alternate captain in this tournament – also notched an assist.

HUBY COMMITS

Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but the Panthers locked up a key roster piece for the long haul this week. This time, it was left winger Jonathan Huberdeau, fresh off his 20 goal, 59-point breakout season. The deal? Six years with an average annual value of $5.9 million.

With the signing, the Panthers have an astounding 10 players signed through the 2020-21 season, so this core is here to stay – and chock full of skill.

Florida Panthers President of Hockey Operations Dale Tallon, the architect of a roster that could very well become a juggernaut in coming years, sees Huberdeau getting even better through the duration of the contract.

“I think he’s only scratched the surface of his abilities,” said Tallon. "I think he’s just going to get stronger, faster, better as we move forward.”

For more on this, check out Jameson Olive’s Q&A with Huberdeau.

ICE ICE BABY

You know it’s been a busy week when the ice going in is this far down in Rats Roundup, but here we are.

At long last, the BB&T Center has a pristine sheet of ice down in the bowl, complete with the new Panthers crest and sponsor logos. And it’s quite a site to behold.

Is it October yet? (It is not. But we're close!)

QUICK HITTERS

- Nick Bjugstad talks to NHL dot com about his offseason, and the big things on the horizon for the Panthers

- The Panthers inked two players to PTOs yesterday – forward Justin Fontaine and defenseman Adam Pardy.

- Running isn’t ever actually fun, but this will be. The Panthers have partnered with the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center to host the Viktor E. Dash

- The Springfield Thunderbirds website went live, so go ahead and bookmark them for the latest on your favorite AHL affiliate.

- The Panthers are doing another open house! Click here for details.

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