Panthers forward Ville Peltonen has been one of those success stories for the Cats as he was signed as a free agent from Europe in 2006. (AP Photo/David Duprey)
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
The International Ice Hockey Federation’s (IIHF) World Championships seem to provide a dual purpose.
The first is providing a showcase each spring for the world’s national teams to compete. The second is to allow the National Hockey League’s general managers and scouts a location to evaluate free agent talent.
“It’s a good opportunity to look at some free agents, players who played over in Europe this past year,” said Panthers GM Jacques Martin, who was joined in Switzerland at the World Championships by assistant GM Randy Sexton and European scout Jari Kekalainen. “It gives us a chance to evaluate players we may have some interest in.”
The Panthers have had some success in the past finding free agents in Europe. They signed forward Ville Peltonen in 2006 after the veteran spent the previous five seasons in Finland. And they signed defenseman Cory Murphy after he was named the Finnish League’s MVP in 2007.
Even if a free agent isn’t signed as a result of his trip to the World Championships, Martin said he has information that could possibly be used in the future.
“The other purpose of (the trip) is to see some players who belong to other organizations that maybe haven’t come over here yet,” Martin said. “So when you talk trades with other teams, it gives you better knowledge of people they have on their depth chart.”
Martin is off this weekend to Quebec for the Memorial Cup at host Rimouski. He returns to South Florida after the Cup for meetings before heading back out to Toronto for the NHL Scouting Combine and the Panthers development camp. PANTHER PROSPECTS HONORED
Panthers prospects Marc Cheverie and Matt Bartkowski were recently honored at their teams awards banquets.
Cheverie, a sophomore goaltender at the University of Denver selected in the seventh-round (193rd overall) of the 2006 Entry Draft, earned his team’s MVP award. Cheverie led the Pioneers with a 23-12-5 record and a 2.21 goals against average and .921 save percentage with four shutouts.
Bartkowski, a freshman at Ohio State selected in the seventh-round (190th overall) of the 2008 Entry Draft, received the George Burke MVP Freshman award and the Joseph Smith Best Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-1, 203-pound Bartkowski had five goals (20 points) in 41 games, including three goals on the power play. He was also a plus-12.