The next start for Florida’s “other” new goaltender will be the 200th of his career.
While it will be just his second as a member of his new club, there’s a face behind the Panthers bench who is familiar with Dan Ellis’ style of play and dedication to the sport.
"He handles the puck really well, he's like another D back there,” said Interim Head Coach Peter Horachek, who worked with Ellis in Nashville.
Acquired one day before the NHL trade deadline from the Dallas Stars in exchange for Tim Thomas, Ellis brings eight years of NHL experience from five different teams to Florida.
"I think it's an exciting place to be,” said Ellis, who noted upon his arrival that the Panthers new ownership has provided stability to the organization.
Drafted by Dallas in the second round (60th overall) in the 2000 NHL Entry draft, Ellis appeared in his first NHL game in 2003. The 33-year-old Saskatoon, SK native has honed his skills with the Stars, Predators, Ducks, Hurricanes and Lightning.
“He’s very calm with the puck and very confident with the puck,” said Horachek. “He’s capable of stepping in and winning.” He has won “some big games and stopped a lot of shots.”
Fitting into the future of the Panthers franchise both in personality and play, Ellis and Roberto Luongo solidify goaltending for the Cats as they finish out the season stretch and look forward to next year.
"I think long term for the future of the team, even further down the road than this year or even next year, it's a good set up," said Horachek.
Likely to make his milestone start this weekend during back-to-back games against LA and Anaheim, Ellis wants to end the year on a high note.
“You want to be able to make a good final push and get yourself in a position that will get you expecting to win next year,” said Ellis.
Ellis made his first start with the Panthers on March 13, making 23 saves in Florida’s 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"Whatever games I get to play in, I have to try to play the best I can,” said Ellis after his first practice with the team, “Otherwise I'm going to try to help Roberto Luongo be the best goalie he can be.”