The Panthers signed forward Anthony Greco to a 1-year, $50,000 deal with their AHL affiliate Springfield Thunderbirds, sources have told Cats On The Prowl. Team North America has also announced that Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck will replace Sean Monahan at the World Cup of Hockey which is set to begin on September 17th in Toronto.
The signing of Anthony Greco comes after the 5’10”, 171-pound winger impressed at the Panthers’ week-long development camp in July. Despite his size, he plays a physical, hard-working, gritty, and fast game while possessing solid offensive instincts which he put on display at the camp by scoring twice in the intrasquad scrimmage.
Greco spent the past 4 seasons at Ohio State University where he tallied 37 goals and 35 assists in 125 career games, served as team captain for the 2015-16 campaign, received the team’s ‘Most Improved Player’ award as a sophomore, and was a two-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete. He attended the Detroit Red Wings development camp in 2015 before training with HIFK, a men’s Finnish pro team in Liiga, and played one game for the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers this past season.
The Panthers obviously liked what they saw from Greco, and the contract – which only allows him to play in the AHL – will give him the opportunity to potentially work towards a two-way deal which would theoretically allow him to be called up to the NHL. Greco gives the Thunderbirds another bottom-6 option on either wing – spots that are a bit shallow at the moment – alongside guys like Juho Lammikko and Graham Black.
Trocheck to Replace Monahan
The Panthers and Team North America announced on Friday that Vincent Trocheck will replace an injured Sean Monahan (back) at the World Cup of Hockey which gets underway in two weeks in Toronto. We heard a couple of weeks ago that Trocheck was likely to get the call and that day has finally come as he’ll don number 21 for the 23-and-under team.
The 22-year old is coming off a breakout season which saw him tally 25 goals and 28 assists in 76 games while serving primarily as the Panthers’ 2nd-line center with Nick Bjugstad and Aleksander Barkov missing time on a few occasions.
Trocheck has played in international hockey tournaments a couple of times over the course of his career, including the 2013 World Junior Championships when he tallied an empty-net goal and an assist for Team USA in the gold medal game as well as the 2014 World Championships.
Aaron Ekblad will also suit up for Team North America while Aleksander Barkov and Jussi Jokinen will play for Team Finland.
Baillie Earns A Look
Ryan Biech of Canucks Army reported on Friday that undrafted free-agent Tyson Baillie will suit up for the Panthers at their rookie tournament, which begins on September 17th and runs through the 20th at the Ice Den in Coral Springs, and we’ve been able to confirm this with our own sources.
Baillie has spent the last 5 seasons playing for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets where he recorded 310 points in 329 games while also serving as the team’s assistant captain for the last 3 years. In his over-age season, the 20-year old finished 7th in league scoring with 95 points in 70 games and tied for 4th in goals with 43.
Baillie plays a smart, gritty, offensive game but his foot-speed leaves a bit to be desired. He has a goal-scorer’s mentality so his shot and willingness to work around the net are above-average and will give him a chance to earn an AHL contract. The Alberta-native has been passed over a few times in the draft but attended the Calgary Flames’ development camp last off-season, and he’s apparently been on the Panthers’ radar for some time now.
The Panthers have clearly made it a priority to give themselves the best shot at developing one or several prospects into NHL-caliber players, and Baillie is another bet the organization is making. Dryden Hunt, Linus Hultstrom, and Anthony Greco are just a few examples of undrafted players the Panthers have signed to contracts, and that’s not including the 14 other non-roster players they invited to their development camp in July and were able to get a look at with no risk.
This approach is just a small part of the direction the team is taking with regards to analytics; the more draft picks and bets they make (prospect signings and acquisitions), the more likely they are to end up with a player that can make an impact in the NHL. Baillie has a scoring profile similar to that of Dryden Hunt – who the Panthers signed at the end of February – and Adam Brooks, who was chosen by the Maple Leafs at the 2016 Draft in the 4th round.
As always, there’s some uncertainty with players like Hunt and Baillie who dominate the league as over-age players since they’re older and typically more developed than the rest of the league. However, the end goal is to accumulate as many of these players as possible to have the best shot at developing one into a Panther.
Jessop Joins Panthers’ Front Office
The Panthers have hired Rhys Jessop as a prospect analyst, and while it hasn’t been made official by the team just yet, Assistant GM Steve Werier essentially confirmed it on Twitter.
Jessop joins Cam Lawrence and Josh Weissbock who joined the organization as prospect analysts in December and have worked closely with GM Tom Rowe, Assistant GMs Eric Joyce and Werier, and the scouting staff over the last several months with the draft, acquisitions, and free-agent signings.
Before joining the Panthers, all three wrote for a well-known Vancouver Canucks blog titled “Canucks Army” and have worked extensively with the analytical and advanced stats side of hockey. Jessop and Weissbock conducted an experiment known as “Sham Sharron” during which they labeled every NHL team’s draft from 2000 to 2010 as a success or failure depending on their ability to select better players using only scouting rankings and stats, among other predefined rules.
Jessop is another piece to the puzzle for the Panthers who have been dabbling in analytics for at least the past year or so, and their efforts to incorporate advanced stats into their decision-making process have ramped up significantly over the past several months. The acquisitions of Reilly Smith, Linus Hultstrom, and Mark Pysyk, for example, were said to be based heavily off of their analytics (among other things, of course) while Dmitry Kulikov and Erik Gudbranson, who weren’t exactly known for their ability to drive possession, were shipped away this off-season in trades.
Stay tuned to COTP on here and on Twitter as we cover the Panthers’ rookie tournament, preseason, and prep you for the start of the regular season over the course of the next several weeks. Informal skates will begin on September 5th and run through the 21st with training camp opening on the 22nd.