Going into this training camp, there were realistically 2-3 open spots for new blood to make their mark on a rapidly improving Panther team. With their last pre-season game in Louisville tonight, the Panthers headed back to Florida with what is essentially their final roster.
After a very competitive rookie camp at all positions, 3 of the 6 players in contention for the job will start the season in the NHL.
Denis Shvidki beat out Ivan Novoseltsev in a highly entertaining pre-season showdown. Both players were among the scoring leaders in the pre-season, and both impressed Bryan Murray enough that he is fairly confident that both of them will be stars in the NHL. Denis was slightly favored in this competition due to his all-around game, as opposed to Ivan’s emphasis toward being a one-dimensional goal scorer. Shvidki was able to play on all 4 lines and contribute offensively in scoring goals and setting them up, and he scored 8 points in 7 games. He shared 2 games playing with Bure and Larionov, and also played several games sharing his line with the grinders, such as Paul Laus and Marcus Nilson. Bottom line on Shvidki…he simply showed the Panthers that he can bring slightly more to the roster at this point that Ivan was able to. This battle was won by the slimmest of margins.
Another in a series of weekly articles summarizing activity in Leafland during the previous 7 days – with some personal observations, commentary, prospect updates and fun thrown in for good measure.
Camp cuts – round two: The Toronto Maple Leafs this week announced that five additional players have been assigned to St. John’s of the AHL … they are forwards Konstantin Kalmikov, Shawn Thornton and Michel Travnicek and defencemen Petr Svoboda and Dimitri Yakushin … Kalmikov played with St. John’s last season and scored a career high 28 points (8G,20A) in 78 games … Thornton also played with St. John’s last year, scoring 16 points (4G,12A) in 60 games and leading the team in penalty minutes for the third straight year with 316 … Travnicek, who was Toronto’s 9th choice 1998, played with Litinov of the Czech Elite League last season and scored 9 points (3G,6A) in 51 games …Yakushin is also starting his third season with St. John’s, where he scored 14 points (G,13A) in 64 games last season … Svoboda, the most surprising name to be included on this list, played with Trinec of the Czech Elite League last season and has been a standout at the Leafs’ Main Camp this month … Toronto’s rationale seems to be that they want the young Czech blueliner to log heavy ice time early in the season while they are in the process of settling personnel on their NHL roster …