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Sgarbossa ready to do 'whatever the team needs'

by Jameson Olive JamesonCoop /

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. - Michael Sgarbossa had a strong feeling that his number was about to be called.

"You always work for the call-up," said Sgarbossa, who was recalled by the Panthers from the Springfield Thunderbirds on Dec. 29. "You just keep plugging away. In this case there was an injury, which was unfortunate, but in my situation it was a positive. In Springfield, that's what you've got to do. You've just got to work and play your game and hopefully someone will see and you'll get rewarded."

Acquired in a mid-November trade with the Anaheim Ducks, Sgarbossa had been producing steadily - 12 points (4-8-12) in 14 AHL games - since arriving in Springfield. 

"When we called [Springfield coach Geordie Kinnear] he said he's the best guy and that's why he deserves the next shot," Panthers interim head coach Tom Rowe said. "He's done what we asked him to do, which is to keep the puck out of our net, but also get pucks deep, make plays and compete.

"The thing I really love about him is he's not afraid to finish hits and get in there and get in there and play inside, so it's a nice element to have when you bring a kid up from the minors."

Entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Sgarbossa, 24, has bounced around several organizations. He's recorded three points (0-3-3) in 23 NHL games split between Anaheim (2015-16), Colorado (2012-15) and Florida (2016-17). 

Video: 12/31/16 Morning Skate

His determination, however, hasn't wavered. 

"Your mindset just has to be positive all the time," said Sgarbossa, who recorded two assists in nine games with Anaheim this season and one goal in two games with the San Diego Gulls (AHL). "You can't be negative. You can't be thinking, 'I've got to do this. I've got to do that. I'm not going to get up. I've got to change my game.'

"If you play the right way and you play how [the coaches] want you to play, you'll get your chances. With me, it happened in Anaheim pretty early and I was there most of the year. Now, I'm getting my shot with Florida."

Sgarbossa hopes that in Florida he can rediscover some of the offensive firepower that helped him capture the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy as the Ontario Hockey League's top scorer in 2011-12, a season in which he recorded 102 points (47-55--102) in 66 games for the Sudbury Wolves. 

"I think that if I play the same way I did in Springfield I'll be alright," said Sgarbossa, who's averaged a career-high 12:40 of ice time since joining the Panthers. "There are a lot of skilled players here that can get the job done. If I can just add to that, it'll benefit me and the organization.

"That's rewarding [about Florida] and something not a lot of teams do. If you play well and you do what [the coaches] want, you play the right way, you'll get the opportunities and that's what I'm looking to do."

An effective player at both ends of the ice, Sgarbossa has played a third-line role since joining the Panthers, while also contributing on the power play and in the face-off circle.

"I like to use my speed," Sgarbossa said. "I'm a playmaker and like to get the guys the puck that can shoot. I'm going to work as hard as I possibly can to stick and do whatever the team needs."

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