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Panthers Draft Preview

Because of a strong 2011-2012 season the Florida Panthers find themselves in unfamiliar territory at this year’s National Hockey League entry draft, at the back of the room. The Panthers will select 23rd overall in round one when the draft begins tonight from the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, unless GM Dale Tallon decides to make a trade between now and then. No matter what happens Tallon and Co. must choose carefully when using their picks, especially in a draft that is not considered “deep” in terms of NHL ready talent. With that in mind let’s take a look at some of the best players available for the Cats later in the first round as well as other important information for tonight in our Panthers draft preview.

Watch Parties:

The Florida Panthers are hosting official watch parties for the 2012 NHL entry draft at the Duffy’s in Fort. Lauderdale and the Duffy’s in Coconut Creek. Erik Gudbranson will be making an appearance at the watch party in Fort. Lauderdale. The addresses for both locations are:

Duffy’s Fort. Lauderdale
1804 Harbor Shops Road
Fort. Lauderdale, FL, 33316

Duffy’s Coconut Creek
4800 W. Hillsboro Blvd.
Coconut Creek, FL, 33073

Be sure to arrive early to get a good seat.

Picks:

Florida currently holds a total of five picks for this weekend’s entry draft. We expect Tallon to secure a few more but for now here is what the Panthers have to work with.

Round 1: 23rd overall
Round 2: 53rd overall
Round 3: 84th overall
Round 4: 114th overall
Round 6: 174th overall

Available Players:

Walking up the the podium to make a top 5 selection at an entry draft is easy. It takes a skilled general manager and scouting staff to find a good player later in the first round and beyond. The Panthers will need Tallon and his group of scouts to be at their best when deciding on who to choose with the draft picks listed above. Here are a couple of names that Cats fans might hear called by their team during round one tonight.

1. Brady Skjei, D, USHL
2. Martin Frk, RW, QMJHL
3. Mike Winther, C, WHL
4. Phillip Di Giuseppe, LW, CCHA
5. Slater Koekkoek, D, OHL
6. Scott Kosmachuk, RW, OHL
7. Tanner Pearson, LW, OHL

Rumors:

Trades are a huge part of the NHL entry draft, especially since all 30 general managers are in one room. The only major rumor involving the Florida Panthers thus far has to do with a former goaltender possibly looking to come “home”. TSN reported yesterday that there are two known teams involved in trade talks with the Vancouver Canucks for netminder Roberto Luongo, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Panthers. Darren Dreger, TSN’s hockey insider, thinks that Florida is a “long shot” as a destination for Luongo, but only time will tell for sure. Either way it is always interesting to hear the trade rumors on draft day, especially those that include the Florida Panthers.

Links:

For even more great coverage of the 2012 National Hockey League entry draft click through the following links.

Prospect Rankings, North American Skaters

Prospect Rankings, European Skaters

Prospect Rankings, North American Goalies

Prospect Rankings, European Goalies

TSN Draft Ranking

TSN Mock Draft

SouthEast Division Draft Preview

Be sure to tune in to the 2012 NHL entry draft tonight beginning at 7 PM EST on the NBC Sports Network to see who the Florida Panthers select with their 23rd overall pick.

Source(s): NHL, TSN

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Photos From Game Seven

Sorry for the delay with posting these photos from game seven between the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers, we just had to take a couple days to recharge our batteries. The following gallery contains pictures taken by Sunshine State Hockey while the link will lead those who click it to the Panthers official game seven photo page.

Enjoy.

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– Florida Panthers Game Seven Photo Gallery

Thank You Panthers

I am not going to bother writing a game recap or summary because we all know what happened. The Florida Panthers, a team that was suppose to finish dead last in the Eastern Conference based off opinions of the NHL media, forced game seven into double overtime before losing to New Jersey. That same National Hockey League media also called the Panthers a bunch of outcasts. Well those outcasts, the 2012 SouthEast Division Champions, certainly did well for themselves, right Mike Milbury?

This article is not intended to be all about how the talking heads were completely wrong abut this team, even though they were. This post is being made to personally thank each and every member of the Florida Panthers organization, except for Michael Yormark, for making this the best season of hockey I have ever witnessed. I have been around this team for a very long time, since 2001 to be exact, and have seen just how poorly they used to play. Dale Tallon, Kevin Dineen, and the rest of the management and coaching staff built a team that, win or lose, worked hard every single night. Tallon and Co. put together a team built around character and we witnessed that during every game, practice, and event that the players were involved in.

The most important thing to remember after tonight Panthers fans is that this is just the beginning. Florida has one of the best prospect groups in all of the National Hockey League with youngsters like Jonathan Huberdeau, Jacob Markstrom, and Nick Bjugstad fine tuning their skills in the minors while waiting for their shot to crack the lineup. The Cats will also welcome back the majority of this year’s SouthEast Division winning team for the 2012-2013 NHL season. Barring any major trades that means players like Tomas Fleischmann, Erik Gudbranson, and “Mr. Panther” Stephen Weiss will be on the roster when the puck drops for game one of next season.

Finally I would like to thank everyone, even the bandwagoners, for coming out to the BankAtlantic Center and making our house rock for games one, two, five, and seven. The atmosphere inside the BAC was absolutely electric, especially in game seven, and it is all because South Florida believed in their hockey team again. Now remember, those of us who have been there for years expect each and every one of you to come back for the 2012-2013 season, so do not let us down.

Be sure to keep coming back to Sunshine State Hockey throughout the rest of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs and during the off-season. We will continue to share our opinions and report the latest news about the National Hockey League and more importantly the Florida Panthers.

The West Is Set For Round Two

After the Phoenix Coyotes eliminated the Chicago Blackhawks last night, defeating them in game six by the score of 4-0. the Western Conference semifinals were locked up. The match-ups for round two in the West are as follows:

Western Conference Semifinals

#8 Los Angeles Kings VS #2 St. Louis Blues

#4 Nashville Predators VS #3 Phoenix Coyotes

There are definitely some surprise teams moving on to round two in the West, just as there will be in the East once that conference finishes the quarterfinals. Seeing “powerhouse” organizations like the Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks, and Chicago Blackhawks eliminated in round one is shocking but it also provides a nice change to the post-season moving forward.

Once the Eastern Conference teams are set for the next round Sunshine State Hockey’s staff will be sure to provide our predictions.

Source: NHL.com

Detroit Eliminated

The Detroit Red Wings, who made the Stanley Cup playoffs for the 21st consecutive year, have been eliminated in the first round of the 2012 post-season by the Nashville Predators four games to one. The Red Wings lost their grip on the series when they dropped both of their home games to the Preds. Nashville is the first team to advance to the semifinals of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Detroit now enters an off-season surrounded by questions that will need to be answered before the puck drops on the 2012-2013 regular season. Will Nicklas Lidstrom call it quits after 20 year’s in the National Hockey League? Does hockey town continue to trust Jimmy Howard with the #1 goaltending position? Is it time for the Red Wings to trade away some of their veterans in favor of rebuilding with youth? We will all just have to wait and see what Detroit does to their team leading up to the start of next season.

For the Predators this is just the first round of what many believe will be a long post-season stay. Nashville has been picked by a lot of people in the hockey world to represent the Western Conference in this year’s Stanley Cup finals. Their organization also hopes that is the case as they are trying their best to convince both Shea Weber and Ryan Suter to return next year since the two franchise defensemen are free agents on July 1st. The Predators will now rest and wait to see which team they will battle in round two.