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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.

What To Know Before The Draft

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The 2015 NHL entry draft is just days away, and the Florida Panthers have the privilege of playing host to one of the most anticipated drafts since Sidney Crosby was selected first overall by Pittsburgh in 2005. Another superstar is about to emerge, with center Connor McDavid being touted as the obvious first choice by the Edmonton Oilers. Of course, as most people know, there is a lot more to the draft than just young men realizing their lifelong dream. The following is everything fans need to know to prepare themselves for the festivities that will take place on Friday and Saturday.

The Top 30

First, let’s talk about the prospects. McDavid is already a household name, but what about the other 29 prospects that could hear their names called in the first round? Here is the complete list of the top 30 North American skaters available:

draft rank

To see the full list of skaters and goaltenders from North America and Europe, click here.

Round 1 Draft Order

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Trade Bait

Kessel

One of the most exciting parts of any draft day are the trades. Every year at least one team pulls the trigger on a blockbuster deal in hopes to improve their team. Last year it was Anaheim who bolstered their lineup on draft day by acquiring Ryan Kesler from Vancouver. His contributions helped his new team reach the Western Conference finals before falling to the eventual Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks.

Fast forward to this weekend’s draft and there are plenty of big names available for the taking. The Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to unload their two biggest stars, Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf, while the Chicago Blackhawks need to shed salary, and they may look to do so by trading Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell. Other names being mentioned in trade talks include Cam Talbot (NYR), Milan Lucic (BOS), and Eric Staal (CAR). TSN has compiled an entire list of players that are rumored to be up for grabs this weekend, which can be seen here.

Schedule of Events

Finally, the Florida Panthers are doing their best to provide a fantastic weekend for everyone attending the 2015 NHL entry draft. From autograph signings to trading card shows there will be something for everyone on Friday and Saturday. For the entire schedule of events just look below.

DraftSchedule

For any other questions about the draft fans can refer to draft central, a web portal created by the Florida Panthers. Round one of the 2015 National Hockey League entry draft takes place this Friday, June 26th, at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL.

Top Five Moments Of The 14/15 Season – #1

Capitals Panthers HockeyToday Florida takes to the ice to play their final game of the 2014-2015 season. In honor of their much improved year we have been counting down the top five moments from this campaign. From a night honoring a 43 year old legend to the first NHL goal of a 19 year old’s career, this season has been full of memorable moments. While all the events on the top five list were impressive none of them come close to the historical 20 round shootout that took place against the Washington Capitals on December 16th, 2014.

#1 – A Shootout For The Ages

The Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers entered the game on December 16th thinking it was going to be just another typical contest against former SouthEast Division foes, boy were they wrong. After regulation ended tied 1-1, with goals from forwards Troy Brouwer and Darek MacKenzie, the teams would head to overtime and eventually the shootout. Florida sent out their SO regulars, Jonathan Huberdeau, Nick Bjugstad, and Brad Boyes, while Washington used Eric Fehr, Nicklas Backstrom, and Evgeny Kuznetsov. The first three shooters for each team could not get the job done, so the shootout went to sudden death, for a record breaking 20 rounds.

BJUGSOPanthers forward Nick Bjugstad would get his second chance in the SO after both teams used all of their players. With the game on his stick Bjugstad came in and fired the puck past Washington goaltender Braden Holtby, giving Florida a win in the longest shootout in National Hockey League history. Don’t take our word for it though, just click the video below and enjoy the full length SO, courtesy of the NHL YouTube channel.

We cannot wait to see what memorable moments the Panthers create during the 2015-2016 season. How about a 30 round shootout? Florida is game if Washington is.

Top Five Moments Of The 14/15 Season – #2

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Making a statement against top tier clubs is important in the development process of any young team. The Florida Panthers made many of the NHL’s elite clubs take notice to the fact that they are a group on the rise. Florida beat plenty of the league’s top teams this season, but moment number two on the countdown focuses on two identical victories against the same organization.

#2 – Panthers Roast The Ducks x2

The Anahiem Ducks will finish 2015 as one of the top teams in the National Hockey League heading into the Stanley Cup playoffs. While their regular season was a successful one they have two large blemishes on their record, thanks to the Florida Panthers. Anahiem was defeated by Florida 6-2 at home on November 16th and 6-2 at the BB&T Center on February 10th. Two identical scores against one of the best clubs in the West.

Nick Bjugstad stole the show in Anahiem, registering two goals and two assists for his first career four point game. At home in February it was Jonathan Huberdeau’s time to shine, picking up three assists in the second 6-2 victory against the Ducks. The more glaring stat is that Florida as a team outscored Anaheim 12-4 in these two games. As long as the Panthers continue to improve and can build off their success they will start to be mentioned in the conversation of elite clubs.

The Rat Review – Panthers Weekly Recap 3/30

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Moves like Jagr

Maybe the fountain of youth is in Florida after all. Jaromir Jagr, The 43 year-old “Kid from Klando” has gone above and beyond the expectations that many set for him when he first arrived in south Florida just days before the NHL trade deadline. Though he was held of the score sheet in his Panther debut on February 28th against Buffalo, Jagr immediately made a tangible impact on Florida’s young core. He hasn’t looked back. In the 14 games he has played so far, he has 12 points. More importantly, in those same 14 games, his young line mates have benefited from his wisdom both on and off the ice. Jonathan Huberdeau (4G, 12A – 16P) and Alexander Barkov (5G,5A – 10P) both look like completely different players, and most of that is due to the sheer presence that a player of Jagr’s caliber brings.

399 and counting….

Roberto Luongo returned to the ice last week after a six game absence due to an upper body injury. He has picked up points in four out of his five starts (going 3-1-1) and has looked solid throughout most of those games. His most recent outing against Toronto earned him his 399th career victory, putting him one shy of the 400 mark. Roberto would like nothing more than to hit the 400 mark, and he couldn’t have picked a better time to do it, as what many are calling the single most important game of the season (thus far) looms large in Boston tomorrow night.

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Tricky Nicky

Nick Bjugstad has been a workhorse this season for the Florida Panthers; spending time on the top 2 lines and seeing regular shifts on the power play. He’s matched up against top-tier talent a nightly basis and has posted career highs in goals (24 – team high) and points (43 – second on team). Unfortunately, those numbers will both stay where they are at as it was announced earlier this week that Bjugstad underwent successful season-ending surgery to repair a nagging lower back injury. His presence will be sorely missed as Florida makes its final push to the playoffs with just six games remaining in the regular season.

The Road Ahead

 As the season winds down, the points only become more valuable. Losing in overtime or the shootout, and beating teams you are chasing in extra time no longer suffice. Florida (85 points, 10th place) picked up a big win on Sunday against Ottawa (86 points, 9th place), winning in regulation 4-2. It will need to carry that same momentum into this week against division rival Boston (89 points, 8th place). Though the Panthers clawed their way to a 2-1 shootout victory over the Bruins in a thriller at the BB&T Center in Sunrise last week, they will need to take both points home in regulation if they want to gain any ground in the frenetic race for the final wild card spot. The puck drops tomorrow night at 7:00.