With two years left on their contract with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL, the Panthers decided to sell their option to the Phoenix Coyotes. The Panthers now share an affiliation with the Buffalo Sabres sending players to the historic Rochester Americans who are now in their 50th Anniversary season. Key prospect Anthony Stewart is out for the season with an injury to his right wrist and Viktor Uchevatov has been sent back to Russia. Though the Panthers system lacks substantial depth, individual prospects are having decent seasons.
Height:/Weight: 6’0, 208 lbs.
Drafted: 169th, 2002
After a rookie year in which the 21-year-old played 44 games with Texas of the ECHL, Swanson then played in 21 games for San Antonio in the AHL. The Nipigon, Ontario native started this season well, before suffering a concussion which caused him to miss 21 games. Swanson last played in the AHL on Dec. 3 in a 2-1 loss to Manitoba. On Jan. 26, he began skating on his own again. Swanson was assigned to affiliate Florida of the ECHL on Feb. 12. He has played four games for the Everblades with a goal and assist, both on the power play.
A strong defensive defenseman, Swanson did not record a point with the Amerks in 11 games but had a plus/minus rating of +3 and 23 penalty minutes. Swanson’s main concern is injuries. He will have to show the organization he is still aggressive and not afraid of injury.
Stefan Meyer, LW
Height/Weight: 6’1, 194 lbs.
Drafted: 55th, 2003
After a successful junior career with his hometown Medicine Hat Tigers, Meyer was assigned to Florida of the ECHL to start the season, but he did not appear in a game. On Oct. 21, Meyer was given a shot at the AHL with the Amerks where his aggressive style has made him stick with the team. In 43 games with Rochester, Meyer has produced 19 points including 10 goals. Meyer kills penalties and is an opportunist with two shorthanded goals. Meyer is responsible defensively with a +2 plus/minus rating.
Though left off the opening night roster, the 20-year-old is proving he belongs. He has fought his way to 111 penalty minutes, second on the team. Meyer is gaining experience at the pro level which is what he needed. Though making it to the NHL this season is not likely, Meyer could see some late season action if the Panthers continue to flounder in the standings.
Kamil Kreps, C
Height/Weight: 6’2, 202 lbs.
Drafted: 38th, 2003
The sophomore from the Czech Republic has passed last season’s AHL goal (6), assist (10), and point (16) total from a year ago with then Panthers AHL affiliate San Antonio. He has one power play goal this season in 32 games for the Amerks. Kreps, who spent 12 games with Texas of the ECHL last season, had only 11 points and five goals with the Rampage last season. Kreps is coming along nicely. A big man, Kreps can skate well, stickhandle very well and sees the ice better than most 21-year-olds. He is a very disciplined player, taking only 12 penalty minutes this season. Kreps will need to improve his plus/minus rating of -6.
Kreps was called up to Florida on Dec. 15 and was expected to make his NHL debut, but was a healthy scratch on Dec. 16 when the Panthers beat Detroit. Kreps did not play against Atlanta and Washington in the team’s next two games. Kreps was re-assigned to Rochester on Dec. 20 where he has remained ever since.
Rob Globke, RW
Height/Weight: 6’2, 201 lbs.
Drafted: 40th, 2002
Globke has seen a different role this season in pro hockey, competing in both the AHL and NHL. As an AHL player, Globke has increased his toughness. In 26 games with the Amerks, the Farmingdale, Michigan native has 34 penalty minutes opposed to 21 all of last season with the San Antonio Rampage. His output in the AHL has been consistent in his sophomore season. He has seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) including a power-play goal. He finished last season with 12 points including 6 goals in 63 games on a weak San Antonio team. In his rookie year, Globke played 10 games for Texas of the ECHL. The Notre Dame graduate has an accurate shot and long reach and also possesses good hockey smarts. Globke’s main weakness is his defensive play. He has a -8 plus/minus rating while playing for Rochester.
Globke, 23, was called up to Florida on Dec. 27 where he stayed for 15 games until he was reassigned to Rochester on Feb. 5. Globke made his NHL debut on Dec. 28 in Sunrise, Florida in a 6-4 win over Boston. He registered his first NHL goal on Feb. 4 in a 6-4 loss to division rival Atlanta, his only NHL point to date. Globke could see more NHL time this season, especially if the Panthers continue to struggle.
Petr Taticek, C
Height/Weight: 6’3, 198 lbs.
Drafted: 9th, 2002
Florida’s first round selection from the 2002 NHL Entry Draft is improving greatly as the lone Panthers prospect in the AHL not playing for the Rochester Americans. In 38 games with the Houston Aeros, Taticek has set a career high in points (29), goals (9), and assists (20) this season. Four of his goals have come on the power play. Taticek played 130 AHL games with San Antonio from 2003-05 where he only recorded 41 points including 11 goals in that time. Last season, Taticek was demoted to Laredo of the Central Hockey League for four games. Now playing for a much stronger team, Taticek is flourishing helping the Aeros to first place in the AHL West Division with a record of 35-14-1-2. Taticek stays out of the penalty box. He only has taken eight penalty minutes this season and is responsible defensively with a +8 plus/minus rating.
The 22-year-old from Rakovnik, Czech Republic made his NHL debut on Jan. 21, replacing injured veteran Gary Roberts in a 1-0 loss in Anaheim. Taticek has played in three NHL games this season and is yet to record a point. Taticek was the sixth Panthers prospect to make his NHL debut this season. He was reassigned to Houston on Jan. 30.
Greg Jacina, C
Height/Weight: 6’0, 203 lbs.
Free Agent Signee
The 23-year-old from Guelph, Ontario is proving his critics wrong. Undrafted out of the OHL, Jacina’s persistence has paid off. After spending the majority of his rookie season with the Augusta Lynx of the ECHL, Jacina earned a spot in the talent rich AHL last season with the San Antonio Rampage recording 31 points in 78 games as well as fighting his way to 150 penalty minutes. Jacina, now in his third season of pro hockey, has picked up right where he left off this season with the Rochester Americans. Jacina is third on the Amerks with 102 penalty minutes in 23 games, which is less than half the games played by penalty minutes leader and Buffalo property Doug Janik. Jacina is not only a fighter. He has 10 points, including six goals and has a +3 plus/minus rating.
Although his skating will need to improve, his ability to throw hard body checks led to a promotion to Florida on Nov. 12 where he made his debut that night in a heartbreaking 5-4 loss in Philadelphia. Jacina was sent back down to the Amerks on Nov. 27. The product of the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack and Mississauga IceDogs was given another shot at the NHL on Jan. 16 before being sent back down on Feb. 1. In his time in the NHL, Jacina has one assist, his only NHL point to date. With no dominant enforcer on the Florida roster, Jacina may well see some more time in the NHL this season in that role.
Drew Larman, C
Height/Weight: 6’3, 188 lbs.
Free Agent Signee
Larman, 20, a member of the 2005 Memorial Cup Champion London Knights, has broken into pro hockey this season. After being assigned to Florida of the ECHL to begin the season, Larman was given a shot at the AHL on Nov. 12 where he has stuck with the Amerks ever since. In 28 games with Rochester, Larman has 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) including a power play goal. His biggest contribution to the Amerks is his defensive play. Larman is currently +7. A checking forward, Larman has the height but more weight will be necessary for a shot at an NHL career. Hailing from Canton, Michigan, Larman is not the most talented player but his work ethic will ultimately determine his future in pro hockey.
D.J. Powers and Matt MacInnis contributed to this report. Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.