The 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.
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:
To see the full list of skaters and goaltenders from North America and Europe, click here.
Round 1 Draft Order
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.
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.
The Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, and Boston Bruins are currently locked into the tightest playoff race in recent years. Only four points separate the three teams, with Boston holding onto the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. The Senators and Panthers are right behind the Bruins, with ten games remaining for the Cats, nine for the B’s, and eleven for the Sens. To makes things easier to follow here is a statistical breakdown for all three clubs.
As stated above, only four points separate The Bruins, Senators, and Panthers from the final wildcard spot. Florida’s win in the shootout against Boston, and Ottawa’s regulation victory over Toronto on March 21st gives BOS 84, OTT 83, and FLA 80 points. This means that the Senators are only one point away from passing the Bruins, with two games in hand. Meanwhile, Florida sits three points behind Ottawa and four behind Boston with one game remaining against the Sens and two versus the B’s.
The Last Ten
The record of a hockey team is a good indication of how well that club is playing, and the last ten shows just how hot, or cold, they are. With a record of 9-1 in their last ten games there is no team in the NHL hotter than the Ottawa Senators. A lot of their success is thanks to 27 year old rookie goaltender, Andrew Hammond. The Sens netminder has posted a record of 13-0-1 with a .947 save percentage and 1.65 goals against average. If Ottawa wants to make the playoffs they are going to need the hamburglar at his best for their final eleven games.
Boston is currently trending in the opposite direction, losing their last five games. They have struggled offensively and on their powerplay while posting a 5-3-2 record in ten games. The Bruins slump has allowed the Panthers and Senators to gain ground on that final wildcard position in the Eastern Conference. If Boston wants to stay ahead in the playoff race they will need to fix their special teams.
The Panthers just refuse to die, but have the toughest challenge ahead of them. Giving Boston a loser point in the shootout on Saturday night did not help their cause, but at least they gained an extra point in the wildcard race. Florida is 6-3-1 in their last ten and have ten games remaining. Included in those final contests are two meetings against Boston and one versus Ottawa. Members of the media state that the Panthers will have to go 8-2 in their final ten games to have a chance at making the postseason, and that includes picking up wins against The Bruins and Senators.
Ducks @ Bruins – 3/26
Rangers @ Bruins – 3/28
Bruins @ Hurricanes – 3/29
Panthers @ Bruins – 3/31
Bruins @ Red Wings – 4/2
Maple Leafs @ Bruins – 4/4
Bruins @ Capitals – 4/8
Bruins @ Panthers – 4/9
Bruins @ Lightning – 4/11
Panthers @ Lightning – 3/24
Panthers @ Maple Leafs – 3/26
Panthers @ Canadiens – 3/28
Panthers @ Senators – 3/29
Panthers @ Bruins – 3/31
Hurricanes @ Panthers – 4/2
Lightning @ Panthers – 4/4
Canadiens @ Panthers – 4/5
Bruins @ Panthers – 4/9
Devils @ Panthers – 4/11
Sharks @ Senators – 3/23
Rangers @ Senators – 3/26
Senators @ Maple Leafs – 3/28
Panthers @ Senators – 3/29
Senators @ Red Wings – 3/31
Lightning @ Senators – 4/2
Capitals @ Senators – 4/4
Senators @ Maple Leafs – 4/5
Penguins @ Senators – 4/7
Senators @ Rangers – 4/9
Senators @ Flyers – 4/11
When goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya both suffered injuries on March 3rd against the Toronto Maple Leafs someone inside the Florida Panthers organization came up with an interesting contest titled goal of a lifetime. The contest, which at first was supposed to be for Florida residents, was to give one lucky winner the chance to be the Panthers backup goalie for a day. Little did the organization know that this humorous idea would turn into something nationally covered.
As word began spreading about the contest major news sources even reported it, including ESPN and Good Morning America. With all of the added interest Florida decided to accept entries from other states. This led to ESPN’s own Linda Cohn, who played goalie on her high school’s hockey team, to try out. The Cats were even able to bring former players on board to help choose the two finalist out of the thousands that entered, such as Bryan McCabe, Radek Dvorak, and Marco Sturm.
After open tryouts were completed Monday afternoon the Panthers had their two finalist; Dustin Smith and Bill Ruggiero. These two goaltenders competed on Tuesday night during the first intermission of Montreal vs Florida in an awkward shootout that only had Marco Sturm and Radek Dvorak as shooters. The end result to a contest that received so much nation attention? A tie. This means that both Dustin and Bill will participate in a practice with the Florida Panthers.
While the overall concept for goal of a lifetime was a good idea the end result left many fans scratching their heads. When the shootout began fans inside the BB&T Center did not even know what was going on. Bill Murphy, public address announcer for the Panthers, tried his best to call the play-by-play, but it was just hard to follow. Most people had no idea that Radek Dvorak and Marco Sturm were the shooters until half way through the contest. Fans on Twitter expressed their disappointment as well, and some even questioned if the contest was rigged.
With that said, Sunshine State Hockey would like to extend congratulations to both men who won the contest. Hopefully the Florida Panthers organization will take the end result seriously next time they host an event that received so much publicity.