The Panthers announced this past week that defenseman Adam Pardy and forward Justin Fontaine will participate in the Panthers’ training camp – which begins on September 22nd – on professional tryouts, adding even more competition to what is expected to a be a tightly-contested set of preseason practices.
Adam Pardy will enter the Panthers’ camp after having been scratched numerous times, injured, and waived by the Winnipeg Jets last season before playing in just 9 games for the Edmonton Oilers from the beginning of March through mid-April. The 32-year old Pardy, who’s 6’4″, 227 pounds, is a defensive defenseman as evidenced by his 4 goals scored in 338 career NHL games.
Justin Fontaine will vying for a roster spot which won’t be easy when you consider the fact that there are only about 2 or3 openings in the bottom-6 compared to the roughly 7 players that are in the mix. Fontaine, 28, has played just 3 seasons in the NHL and all of them have been with the Minnesota Wild where he totaled 27 goals and 41 assists in 197 games. This isn’t the first time Fontaine’s name has been connected to the Panthers as I heard the team was mulling him back around the trade deadline in February.
The fact the Panthers are considering either player in the first place despite their subpar numbers appears to be a product of the revamped front office and its analytics-heavy approach. Pardy is ranked 39th in the league in 4v5 shorthanded Corsi Against per 60 over the past 3 seasons (78.09) which could make him a serviceable penalty-killing option for the Panthers.
Fontaine led the Wild last season in points per 60 minutes at 5v5 (2.25) and in goals for per 60 (2.77) since 2014 while also ranking 3rd in goals for percentage (57.66) over the same period of time. The Alberta-native achieved those numbers despite averaging just 11:54 of ice time per game, suggesting there could be some untapped offensive potential which he could bring to the bottom-6.
Rookie Roster Released
The Panthers announced their 23-player roster for the 4-team rookie tournament which begins on Saturday at the Ice Den in Coral Springs. The roster includes players like Jayce Hawryluk, Dryden Hunt, Mike Matheson, Ian McCoshen, and Sam Montembeault, among others.
Seven players who are not property of the Panthers will be attending the camp on a try-out basis, and those names include Tyson Baillie, Rihards Bukarts, Matthew Highmore, Zac Lynch, Eric Scheid, Spencer Abraham, and Eddie Wittchow. I wrote a bit about Tyson Baillie here when the news broke that he had been invited to participate in the tournament, so check that out for more on him. Wittchow hasn’t officially been signed to a contract with the organization yet after being drafted in 2011 and completing his senior year at the University of Wisconsin this past spring, but I’ve been told that he will join the Panthers’ AHL affiliate for the upcoming season.
Bukarts, Lynch, and Scheid, both signed try-outs with the Panthers’ former AHL affiliate Portland Pirates near the end of last season and attended rookie camp in early July, so it appears the front office wants to get some more looks at them before rendering a decision on contracts. I wouldn’t be surprised to see all three of them playing for the Thunderbirds this coming season considering the shallowness of the forward depth in Springfield. Highmore also attended rookie camp in July and he’ll get another look from management as well.
The Panthers will ice 11 players with at least one game of pro experience, including Mike Matheson who has played a full season in the AHL, has 8 games of NHL experience (including 5 in the playoffs), and suited up for 10 games at the World Championship in May. Kyle Rau will also be participating after skating in 63 AHL games and 9 NHL games this past season. As is usually the case with NCAA prospects, guys like Henrik Borgström and Chris Wilkie will not be particpating this year as they are forced to pay their own way per collegiate rules.
The full roster can be viewed by clicking here.