Category Archives: NHL

The Rat (P)Review – 2015-2016 Season Preview

Game On!

BBT Center

Where does the time go? It’s hard to believe that October is already well underway, and with it, the beginning of hockey season. Florida is set to embark on the 2015-2016 season with its home (and season) opener against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at 7:00 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise. But before the puck drops, and the season officially begins, here are a few key things to keep in mind:

Photo Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Ekblad the X Factor

Aaron Eklbad’s franchise record breaking season was one for the ages. He broke nearly every offensive statistical category for a Panthers’ rookie defenseman, and was near the team lead in time on ice per game night in and night out. To the surprise of some, he beat out fellow rookie standouts Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames and Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators for the title of Rookie of the Year, bringing home the Calder Trophy at this past summer’s annual NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas. This of course does not come without a cache-22 however, as the dreaded phrase “sophomore slump” is bound to be on the lips of hockey analysts everywhere in the early goings of this season. Many rookie stars fall prey to complacency in their second season, and Ekblad is by no means immune. If the Panthers are going to have a successful season and find themselves competing for the Stanley Cup this season ,number 5 will not only need to avoid the pitfalls of many of his predecessors, he will need to continue to build on the stellar effort he put forth last season.

Photo Credit: panthers.nhl.com

Photo Credit: panthers.nhl.com

Out with the Old

Although Florida GM Dale Tallon has kept a strong veteran presence on his roster with the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Jussi Jokinen, Willie Mitchell, and Roberto Luongo, it is clear that youth is the name of the game in south Florida. Gone are the likes of veterans Tomas Kopecky, Scottie Upshall, Sean Bergenheim, and Thomas Fleischmann. In their stead, fans will likely see a number of young hopefuls, who are being given a chance to prove themselves worthy of a full-time roster spot. Florida’s official opening day roster includes the likes of Rocco Grimaldi, Vincent Trocheck, Quinton Howden, and Connor Brickley. With so many players competing for only a few spots, these kids should come out swinging. Hopefully, they find chemistry with their fellow line mates early on and bring the fans some fast-paced and exciting hockey.

Photo Credit: panthers.nhl.com

Photo Credit: panthers.nhl.com

4 is better than 3

The powerplay was a sore spot for Florida last season. Although its powerplay did finish 24th overall in the league, Florida started to find its way in the latter half of the season. Following the all-star break, the Panthers switched from a 3 forward, 2 defensemen setup, to 4 forwards and one lone defender. The results were immediate. Although a 24th place finish doesn’t seem like much, the Panthers found themselves in dead last in powerplay efficiency prior to the switch, so a six spot jump in a short amount of time is worth noting. The question remains whether or not they will continue with the 4-1 setup, and if a full season of it will pay dividends.

 

The Road Ahead

The Florida Panthers will play game 1 of 82 in just a few short hours. Every season seems to start with renewed optimism, only to end in bittersweet disappointment. Hopefully, the success, and chemistry that the team found in the latter half of last season will push them over the hump, and back into the playoffs. Strap yourself in, because it should be an exciting year of Panthers hockey. Let’s go Cats!

Kessel Traded To Penguins

KesselThe Toronto Maple Leafs have finally moved Phil Kessel. It was announced earlier today that the Maple Leafs sent Kessel, Tyler Biggs, Tim Erixon, and a 2016 second round pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Nick Spaling, Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington, a 2016 first round pick, and a 2016 third round pick. As part of the deal Toronto will retain 15% of Phil Kessel’s salary.

Free Agent Frenzy 2015: Live Blog

MGreen

Sunshine State Hockey will be live blogging from 11:30 AM to 4:00 PM EST during the first day of NHL free agency. Stick with us all day for updates on the biggest signings and possible trades.

11:32 AM – We are officially live and just 28 minutes away from the start of free agency. Some early reports indicate that more than eight teams are interested in Joel Ward, including his current team, the Washington Capitals.

11:40 AM – David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period reports that the Bruins and Red Wings are in the mix for Mike Green. On the trade front, it seems Calgary and Toronto have talked about a deal for Phil Kessel, but nothing incoming yet.

11:45 AM – The Calgary Flames have re-signed goalie Karri Ramo to a one year contract. That takes him off of our top 30 UFA list.

11:52 AM – A highlight reel of the good and bad free agent signings from 2014 is being shown on the NHL Network. Dave Bolland was the first player shown on the bad list.

11:57 AM – The Penguins are currently the front runners for Phil Kessel.

12:00 PM – Free agent frenzy begins now!

12:02 PM – Blackhawks have signed newly acquired forward Artem Anisimov to a five year contract. Anisimov was traded to Chicago in the seven player deal for Brandon Saad.

12:10 PM – Toronto signs Matt Hunwick

12:11 PM – The signings are rolling in. Colorado signs Beauchemin to a three year contract. Goalie Thomas Greiss has signed with the Islanders for two years, $1.5 million per year.

12:14 PM – Adam Pardy re-signs with Winnipeg for one year while Washington signs Taylor Chorney.

12:21 PM – Just a reminder for Panthers fans. Scottie Upshall, Tomas Kopecky, and Brad Boyes are all free agents and will not be brought back to Florida.

12:27 PM – Hearing both Mark Letestu and Andrej Sekera are close to signing with the Edmonton Oilers.

12:38 PM – Paul Martin inks a four year deal with the San Jose Sharks.

12:41 PM – Andrej Sekera and Mark Letestu have signed with the Edmonton Oilers. Sekera will receive $5.5 million per for six years.

12:45 PM – Forward Blake Comeau goes to Colorado for three years. Chicago brings Viktor Tikhonov back to the NHL.

12:47 PM – TSN’s Bob McKenzie reporting that Michael Frolik might be heading to Calgary, nothing official yet but it seems to be a long term deal.

12:48 PM – David Pagnotta reporting that Michal Neuvirth has signed with Philadelphia.

12:49 PM – Brad Richardson and Steve Downie have signed with the Arizona Coyotes.

12:51 PM – Panthers seem to be searching for a backup goalie. That market is shrinking fast.

12:54 PM – Phil Kessel has been traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Kasperi Kapanen, Harrington, and a first round pick.

12:58 PM – Michael Frolik to Calgary is now official.

1:02 PM – Goalie Anders Lindback signs a one year contract with Arizona.

1:05 PM – Panthers quiet so far today. George Richards reporting that Tallon is working on a new contract for Huberdeau.

1:13 PM – Vancouver signs Matt Bartkowski to a one year contract worth $1.75 million.

1:16 PM – Barret Jackman moving from the Blues to the Predators for two years, $4 million per year.

1:19 PM – Florida Panthers sign three minor league players, goaltender Mike McKenna, forward Shane Harper, and defenseman Sena Acolatse.

1:21 PM – Zbynek Michalek is heading back to Arizona on a two year deal.

1:29 PM – Another backup goalie off the table as Jhonas Enroth signs a one year deal with LA.

1:31 PM – More pieces to that Phil Kessel deal. Details still coming in but Nick Spaling is heading to Toronto as part of the trade.

1:37 PM – Alex Burmistrov is coming back to North America, and back to the Jets on a two year contract.

1:51 PM – Rangers sign Diaz.

1:53 PM – Tampa Bay Lightning sign Eric Condra to a three year contract.

2:08 PM – Cody Hodgson signs with the Nashville Predators.

2:14 PM – Vancouver trades Kassian and a 5th round pick to Montreal for Prust.

2:19 PM – John Moore heads to New Jersey for three years.

2:26 PM – The finalized Phil Kessel trade can be seen on Sunshine State Hockey by clicking here.

2:27 PM – Senators sign Zack Stortini.

2:33 PM – The Flames sign Derek Grant, former Ottawa center, to a two way deal.

2:40 PM – We lost one in the shuffle of this frenzy. Toronto signed P.A. Parenteau.

2:42 PM – Aside from those minor league trades earlier in the day Florida has been completely silent so far. It is possible that they make no moves this year, which puts pressure on the young guys to carry the Panthers to a playoff berth this year.

2:52 PM – TSN’s Darren Dreger reporting that Viktor Stalberg is now a member of the New York Rangers.

2:54 PM – The Buffalo Sabres have signed 2015, 2nd overall pick Jack Eichel to a three year, entry level contract.

3:01 PM – Ruslan Fedotenko signs a two way contract with the Minnesota Wild.

3:10 PM – Blues LW Vladimir Tarasenko has received an offer sheet from the Dallas Stars for six years, $45 million, reports are that St. Louis will match.

3:11 PM – Carolina inks TJ Hensick.

3:14 PM – Mike Kostka signs a two way deal with the Ottawa Senators.

3:30 PM – We will be live blogging for 30 more minutes. It seems the signings and trades are starting to slow down.

3:31 PM – Former Blue Jackets player Brian Gibbons has signed with the Rangers.

3:41 PM – Penguins sign D-man David Warsofsky to a one year contract.

3:46 PM – George Richards just tweeted this quote from Panthers GM Dale Tallon: “We would have signed someone if it was a bargain. We weren’t going to overpay and block one of the kids.”

3:51 PM – The biggest signing of the day, Detroit inks defenseman Mike Green to a three year contract. Green was listed as our top available free agent.

3:56 PM – We will be live for just four more minutes. There are still plenty of big names available for the taking, such as Martin St. Louis, Justin Williams, and Joel Ward. Be sure to check all the major NHL news networks for any breaking deals after 4:00 PM. If the Panthers make any moves after 4:00 PM we will report them as soon as they happen.

4:00 PM – It is time for us to sign off for the evening. Thank you for joining us today and we hope everyone enjoyed our coverage of the 2015 free agent frenzy.

Free Agent Frenzy 2015: Top UFA’s

It’s that time of year again in the National Hockey League. Tomorrow, when the clock strikes 12:00 PM EST, all 30 teams will be able to sign any unrestricted free agent they choose. While this year’s free agent class lacks depth there are still some good players to be had for the right price. Below is our list of the top 30 UFA’s that will be available tomorrow.

Ranking Player Position Former Team
1 Mike Green D WSH
2 Martin St. Louis RW NYR
3 Justin Williams RW LAK
4 Mike Ribeiro C NSH
5 Michael Frolik LW WPG
6 Cody Franson D NSH
7 Matt Beleskey LW ANA
8 Joel Ward RW WSH
9 Antoine Vermette C CHI
10 Francois Beauchemin D ANA
11 Andrej Sekera D LAK
12 Chris Stewart RW MIN
13 Johnny Oduya D CHI
14 Christian Ehrhoff D PIT
15 Michal Neuvirth G NYI
16 Eric Fehr C WSH
17 Shawn Matthias C VAN
18 Karri Ramo G CGY
19 Zbynek Michalek D STL
20 Brad Richards C CHI
21 Jiri Tlusty C WPG
22 Curtis Glencross C WSH
23 Brad Boyes RW FLA
24 Lee Stempniak RW WPG
25 Mike Santorelli C NSH
26 Daniel Winnik LW PIT
27 Blake Comeau RW PIT
28 Thomas Greiss G PIT
29 Barrett Jackman D STL
30 Sean Bergenheim LW MIN

Be Sure to check back with Sunshine State Hockey tomorrow when we begin live blogging at 12:00 PM EST for the free agent frenzy.

2015 NHL Draft In Pictures

0121-draft15

We hope everyone had a good time at the 2015 NHL draft. Sunshine State Hockey would like to thank the Florida Panthers and the National Hockey League for hosting a very memorable event, and for putting our favorite team at the front of the hockey world for two days. Please enjoy these pictures taken by us during draft weekend.