Panthers sign Buckles, Cowley, four others to AHL contracts

Matt Buckles
Image courtesy of @turbuL3NT2 / COTP Photography

The Panthers announced on Thursday that they signed 6 players to one-way, AHL contracts with the Springfield Thunderbirds: Matt Buckles, Evan Cowley, Anthony Greco, Francois Beauchemin, Ryan Horvat, and Matt MacKenzie.

Matt Buckles and Evan Cowley, both selected by the Panthers in the 4th round of the 2013 Draft, recently wrapped up their senior seasons in college.

Buckles had a career year at Cornell, posting highs in goals, assists, and points despite missing a month and a half with an injury.

He signed an amateur try-out contract with the Thunderbirds at the end of March and went on to record points in 7 of his first 9 AHL games. The 21-year has good size at 6’3″, 218 pounds and has a knack for scoring dirty goals around the net, whether it’s off a rebound or a deflection.

Buckles is definitely one to keep an eye on as he was very impressive in his short AHL stint.

Cowley is fresh off a national championship i at the University of Denver where he put up some really solid numbers as the Pioneers’ backup goaltender.

He managed a save percentage of 0.955, a goals-against average of 1.13, and 2 shutouts in 11 appearances which is super impressive.

Cowley, 21, is definitely capable of playing more minutes than he did, and odds are he’ll get just that this coming season.

He’ll compete for a spot on the Thunderbirds’ roster, but with top goalie prospect Sam Montembeault turning pro and Adam Wilcox expected to be back in the fold, don’t be surprised if he starts in the ECHL.

For more on Buckles and Cowley, check out this season’s full prospect review here.

Anthony Greco, a 23-year old winger, earned a contract with the Thunderbirds last year after a standout performance at the Panthers’ rookie tournament.

He totaled 16 goals and 15 assists in 74 games and played a big part in the Thunderbirds’ penalty kill thanks to his speed and work ethic. Fifteen of his points came in the final 21 games of the season, and that included a span where he tallied 6 goals in 6 games.

Francois Beauchemin will join the pro ranks after a 4-year career in the QMJHL. The 21-year old forward finished third in league scoring this past season with 45 goals and 97 points in 69 games with Vald’Or and Charlottetown.

Beauchemin appears to have some offensive talent, but it’s important to note that he had just 29 goals and 70 points in his previous 3 junior seasons combined before breaking out this year.

Ryan Horvat, 24, served as an assistant captain for the Thunderbirds in what was his 4th professional season and recorded 17 points in 47 games. He proved to be a reliable presence in the bottom-6 before missing the final 23 games of the season with an undisclosed injury.

Matt MacKenzie will rejoin the Thunderbirds for his 7th season of pro hockey. With several a few injuries on defense, he was signed to a professional try-out contract out of the ECHL in late-November.

The 25-year old played in just about every situation for the Thunderbirds, and with the possibility of some graduations on the backend, he could see more playing time next season for them as a regular or depth option.

Preseason Schedule Announced

The Panthers announced their 2017 preseason schedule on Friday.

They’ll face the Nashville Predators in a doubleheader to kick off the 6-game slate on September 19th

The preseason will wrap up against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Center on September 29th.

The Panthers will play just two preseason games at home on September 26th and 28th against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Here’s the full schedule:

Tuesday, Sept. 19th

at Nashville Predators

4:30 p.m.

Bridgestone Arena

Tuesday, Sept. 19th

at Nashville Predators

8:00 p.m.

Bridgestone Arena

Sunday, Sept. 24th

at Tampa Bay Lightning

4:00 p.m.

Amalie Arena

Tuesday Sept. 26th

vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

7:30 p.m.

BB&T Center

Thursday, Sept. 28th

vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

7:30 p.m.

BB&T Center

Friday, Sept. 29th

at Montreal Canadiens

TBD

Bell Centre

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