Rookies battle it out for final spots in Florida

By e.m.-brown

With more veterans taking up spots on the Florida Panthers 2005-06 roster, the team’s young stars are finding themselves in more heated battles than in the past.

Prospects Anthony Stewart, Gregory Campbell and journeyman Serge Payer
will have one more opportunity — a Sunday matchup against the Tampa
Bay Lightning — to grab the final roster spot before the season opens
on Oct. 5.

Of the three, the 20-year-old Stewart has experienced the best preseason, notching a pair of goals in three games. Both Campbell and Payer have appeared in three games each, but failed to register any points. Stewart’s only pro experience came in 10 games played with the San Antonio Rampage at the end of last season when he finished play with the Kingston Frontenacs.

One player who appears to have secured a roster spot is 19-year-old Czech center Rostislav Olesz.

The Panthers’ top pick in 2004 has tallied a pair of goals and one
assist in four preseason games, his first in North America.

Olesz, who stood out during the Panthers’ rookie camp, has been
playing alongside veterans Olli Jokinen and Joe Nieuwendyk on one of
the team’s top lines. He has also drawn ice time on the power play and
penalty kill.


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Meanwhile, many of the Florida’s young stars are headed to the AHL Rochester Americans to prepare for the 2005-06 season.

Among those reassigned to the Americans: goaltenders Phil Osaer and
Jean-Marc Pelletier; defensemen Martin Lojek, Grant McNeill, Filip
Novak, Jeremy Swanson, Martin Tuma
and Victor Uchevatov; and forwards
Rob Globke, Greg Jacina, Kamil Kreps, Stefan Meyer and Peter Taticek.

The Panthers, who cut ties with San Antonio in June, will
partner with the Buffalo Sabres in feeding players to the Americans this year.

OTHER NOTES: Kendall McArdle, the Panthers’ first-round pick in 2005,
has three goals and two assists in two games with Moose Jaw of the
Western Hockey League. … Florida signed 20-year-old center Drew Larman out of the OHL London Knights and assigned him to Rochester. … The Panthers have joined the Carolina
Hurricanes as an affiliate of the ECHL’s Florida Everblades, based in Estero, Florida.




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