“I’m happy for the two more years in Florida,” said Stumpel from his summer home in Slovakia. “I’ve gotten to know everyone there and my family likes it there.”
Stumpel also said he’s looking forward to playing alongside goalie Tomas Vokoun, who was acquired June 22 from Nashville. Vokoun and Stumpel are friends, having participated in charity events in the past and having played soccer in the summers.
“I’ve known Tomas for several years,” Stumpel said. “I know him mostly from hockey but we’ve done some charity things together and he’s a good friend of mine. It’s great that he’ll be part of the team.”
Stumpel scored a career-high 23 goals last season for the Panthers. In two seasons with the Panthers over 147 games, Stumpel has scored 38 goals and 71 assists and has a Plus-13 rating. His 57 points last season (34 assists) were his highest-point total since the 1999-00 season.
“Jozef is a proven playmaker who has fit in very well playing alongside with our core nucleus of forwards over the past two seasons,” said Panther GM and coach Jacques Martin. “He gives us flexibility in our line-up, as he can play center or on the wing as well as our special teams.”
Martin also credited Stumpel with being influential in the development of Rostislav Olesz “both on and off the ice.”
“With (Stumpel’s) signing we have added another significant part to our overall strategy of bringing continued stability and success to the Panthers organization,” Martin added.
Stumpel, second on the team last season with nine power play goals, said his offensive output last season could be attributed to his comfort level with the team and South Florida.
“Obviously, when you get to know guys you feel more confident,” he said. “I think I’m getting more opportunities and I know the the team’s strategy.”
Stumpel, who spent his previous 12 seasons in Boston and Los Angeles, was drafted in 1991 in the second round (40th overall) by the Bruins. Stumpel said he would remain in Slovakia working out this summer before heading back to South Florida sometime in July.