It came down to the wire, but the Florida Panthers were able to keep a second Russian Rocket in the fold. However, the Panthers also decided not to sign 3 of their 1997 draftees.
Ivan Novoseltsev, labelled by some as the second coming of Pavel Bure, signed a lucrative $2.3 million contract over 3 years, with many goal scoring bonuses and major awards bonuses. Novoseltsev originally asked for the 1997 rookie-cap of $925,000 while the Panthers claimed a 4th round pick didn’t deserve that much.
Although drafted in the 4th round, Ivan’s post-draft development was stunning, as he broke out to score 54 goals in 63 games this season for the Sarnia Sting, a new team record. (Coincidentally, the team is owned by Panthers winger Dino Ciccarelli). He also chipped in with 10 game winning goals and was 2nd overall in goal scoring in the OHL.
As good as Novoseltsev is, don’t expect him in a Panthers uniform next season unless he blows everybody away at training camp. With a plethora of scoring wingers (Parrish, Kvasha, Bure, Dvorak, Whitney), and the fact Novoseltsev has a lot of defensive zone coverage to learn, he will likely christen the expansion Louisville Panthers and lead their new affiliate to success.
“He has a chance to play right away, but to be fair, it’s going to be tough for him because of competition with a number of young players on the team,” stated General Manager Bryan Murray, “unless he really has a great camp, we do want to be careful (with his development.)”
The deal was signed with 12 hours to spare, but if Novoseltsev was to re-enter the draft, he would most likely be picked in the 2nd round, where the Panthers could possibly of re-drafted him. No teams were have rumoured to be looking to trade for and sign Novoseltsev.
With the signing, also came three releases, as Bryan Murray decided not to offer contracts to 3rd round pick Vratislav Cech, 5th round pick Pat Parthenais, and 6th round pick Keith Delaney.
The decision not to sign Cech came as somewhat of a surprise as Cech was looking to be a solid defenseman prospect. The Panthers do have a lot of quality defensemen prospects, and Cech was the odd-man out. He is likely to be re-drafted in the 5th or 6th round.
Keith Delaney and Pat Parthenais didn’t impress anybody. Delaney had 59 points in 66 games with the Toronto St. Micheals. However, a player of his age should produce more, especially with the tonne of ice-time he received. Pat Parthenais, a defenseman, had 8 points in 46 games with the OHL Batallion. He also played 6 games for the UHL Generals.