SUNRISE, Fla. – Tomas Nosek cracks a smile before turning back the clock.

When asked about his decision to ink a one-year deal with the Florida Panthers during a media availability over Zoom on Tuesday, the veteran forward immediately points to the team’s historic and stunning comeback during the 2023 Eastern Conference First Round.

At the time, Nosek was a member of the Boston Bruins, who stormed their way into the playoffs as the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference following an unmatched regular season in which they set new NHL records for wins (65) and points (135).

By comparison, the Panthers snuck into the playoffs by a single point.

Facing off in the first round, the Bruins raced out to a commanding 3-1 lead in the series before the Panthers found their game and ripped off three straight wins to cap off an historic upset and jumpstart their run all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

Even before they finally won the Cup this year, Nosek knew they were on to something.

“That season was historic,” Nosek said. “We never lost, I think, two games in a row, and then in the playoffs they beat us three games in a row. It was a special team, special group. I knew that back then. They proved it this year. They won it all. It’s a great group of guys.”

From foe to friend, he’s now hoping to help the Panthers repeat as champs.

“That’s why I chose to sign with the Panthers,” Nosek said. “I think they’re a good team and have a chance to do it again. I want to win, and I’d do anything to help that team win again.”

With the Panthers losing fourth-line center Kevin Stenlund to Utah during free agency, Nosek is the player that seems most likely to step into his shoes and play that crucial role.

Heading into his 10th season in the NHL, Nosek, who entered the league undrafted, has made a living out of winning faceoffs and killing penalties throughout his career, which featured stops in Detroit, Las Vegas, Boston and New Jersey prior to ending up in Florida.

Finishing above 50% in the faceoff circle every season of his career, Nosek won 59.3% of his draws with the Bruins in 2022-23 and 51.9% of his draws with the Devils in 2023-24.

In his final season with the Bruins, he also averaged 2:33 of ice time per game on the penalty kill.

Watching the Panthers take down the Oilers in seven games in the Stanley Cup Final, Nosek was impressed with how they were able to stifle Edmonton’s elite power play.

“The penalty kill was phenomenal,” said Nosek, who’s seen over 130 minutes of ice time on the PK in two of the last three seasons. “I watched a couple games of the Stanley Cup Final. I hope I can fit in perfectly and kill some penalties, too. It’s a pretty good structure, for sure.”

Not just a grinder, Nosek can also chip in points.

In the six seasons leading up to an injury-plagued campaign with the Devils in 2023-24, the 31-year-old pivot logged at least 15 points every season and scored eight goals three times.

Now healthy after being limited to just 36 games last season, he’s confident that offense will return with Florida.

“I was out for pretty much half of the season,” Nosek said of his lone year with New Jersey. “It took me a while to get to my game. I think the last 15 or 20 games, I was fine with my hockey and what I can do. I feel healthy. I finally feel healthy. It’s been good so far and a great summer. It’s been a long summer, too. I’m looking forward to jumping on the ice.”

More than anything, Nosek is itching for more playoff games.

Over the past two seasons, no team has played more of them than the Panthers.

After playing beyond Game 82 for six straight seasons prior having that streak snapped this past season with the Devils, he's excited to continue his quest for the Cup in South Florida.

“That’s why I signed here,” said Nosek, a veteran of 52 career playoff games. “When I started to play regularly in the NHL, it was my first year in Vegas. We went all the way to the Final, and since then I’ve been chasing that again. Every year you want to win. Especially when you get older, you want to win ever more. You know there’s not much time left. You want to pick a team that has a real chance. I think that’s what the Panthers are.”

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