The Florida Panthers rookie camp is officially a wrap. The evaluation period is now over. All throughout this week, the coaches have been tirelessly evaluating their top prospects, hoping someone will make a difference for this upcoming season.
“It’s our last chance to show the organization we want to be here,” said Colby Robak
, defensemen for the Panthers rookie team. “So I took opportunities and did what I wanted to do.”
The tournament part of Rookie Camp began on Sunday, Sep. 11, with a 4-2 Panthers win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. As expected the first game of the tournament started out sloppy, but the Panthers were able to settle down and pull out with a win.
The second game of the tournament did not go as well for the Panthers as they lost 3-1 to the Nashville Predators. The Panthers had numerous 3-on-1 chances, but it just wasn’t their day as they let up three unanswered goals.
For some of the rookies, the final game of the tournament was the last impression they could make on the coaches. It was make or break time, so there was plenty of pressure heading into this game. However, the Panthers seemed to be at ease holding the lead throughout the game, beating the Lightning 4-1. In only a week of evaluation, there were plenty of players that seemed to have caught the coach’s eye.
“There’s a laundry list,” said Chuck Webe, the coach of the Panther Rookies and San Antonio AHL coach. “From the back, (Jacob) Markstrom and (Brian) Foster really set the tone in goal. I thought (Colby) Robak got better as the tournament went on. (Alex) Petrovic was solid throughout, (Erik) Grudbranson was as advertised in the back. I thought a guy like (Roman) Derlyuk, being Russian and first time over here, did a great job. Then upfront, the biggest thing is that the guys played to their identity.”
One of the Panther rookies that performed well this camp was Jonathan Hurberdau, third overall pick in 2011, who led the team in scoring with two goals and two assists for the tournament. Jacob Markstrom
, the future goalie of the Panthers, impressed his peers for making some notable saves, going 1-1 for the tournament.
With Rookie Camp now over, the next step this offseason is training camp. Starting Saturday, Sep. 17, the whole Panthers team will report to the Bank Atlantic Center for a two week long training camp.
“Now it’s the kids from here that make the camp and see how they play with the big boys,” said Weber. “You’re not competing against 18 to 22 year olds, now you’re competing against men and that’s going to be the biggest thing, the guys being able to make that jump.”
The season is right around the corner, and we will soon see how well this offseason fared and which rookies make the cut. There are plenty of new faces on the team, so it should be interesting to see how well this team comes together during training camp in the coming weeks.