March 23 2012: Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson (44) holds down Edmonton Oilers left wing Ryan Smyth (94) during the third period at the BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Yesterday, we took time to look over the Panther careers of G Wade Flaherty (2-1-1, .919 save percentage, 2.94 GAA), D Ville Koistinen (17 games, one goal, three assists), W Scottie Upshall (26 games, two goals, three assists), and LW Pierre Dagenais (35 games, seven goals, one assist).
In today's entry, we check in with a right winger from Pittsburgh, two defensemen, one from Minnesota and one from Ottawa, and a Czech left winger.
To read more, follow the jump.
160. Bill Thomas
Thomas was a 6'2" right winger from Pittsburgh, PA. Undrafted, he first appeared with the NAHL Cleveland Barons in 2000-01, making 15 goals and 20 assists in 103 games over two seasons. In 2002-03 and 2003-04, Thomas joined the USHL Tri-City Storm, scoring 60 goals and 59 assists over 120 contests. He attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha for two seasons of collegiate hockey, scoring 46 goals and 49 assists in 80 games.
After completing his college season in 2005-06, the Phoenix Coyotes signed Thomas to a free agent contract. He would finish out the final nine games of the season in Phoenix, scoring a goal and two assists.
2006-07 and 2007-08 would see Thomas split the season between the Coyotes (31 games, eight goals, six assists), and the AHL San Antonio Rampage (122 games, 37 goals, 48 assists).
Thomas spent the 2008-09 season in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization between Pittsburgh (16 games, two goals, one assist) and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (39 games, eight goals, 10 assists).
As an unsigned free agent after 2008-09, Thomas was signed to a professional tryout with the AHL Springfield Falcons on November 3, 2009. He would spend most of the season with the club (33 games, five goals, 12 assists) with a detour with the Swiss league Lugano (six games, two goals, one assist).
During the 2010 offseason, Thomas signed a free agent contract with the Panthers. He scored 16 goals and 20 assists in 53 AHL games with the Rochester Americans. He was twice called up to appear in Florida. He earned points in three of his first five games, including his first Panthers goal in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Colorado Avalanche on December 7th. He finished the season after the roster was scuttled to make way for the spending spree yet to come. Thomas finished the season with four goals and three assists in 24 games.
In 2011-12, Thomas spent most of the season with the new (old) AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, scoring 27 goals and 25 assists in 65 games. When the injury bug bit Florida in December, Thomas made a seven game stop in Florida, scoring a goal in a 5-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
All-Time Statline: Two seasons, 31 games, five goals, three assists, eight points, plus-1 rating, six PIM, 0.9 APS.
159. Clay Wilson
WIlson was a 6' defenseman from Sturgeon Lake, MN. He played four collegiate seasons with Michigan Tech, scoring 17 goals and 40 assists in 148 games, graduating with the class of 2005. After parts of two seasons with the UHL Muskegon Fury (27 games, six goals, 12 assists), Wilson appeared in 60 games with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins to finish out the 2005-06 season, scoring 10 goals with 27 assists.
The Anaheim Ducks signed Wilson as a free agent prior to the 2006 season. In parts of two seasons with the Ducks AHL team, the Portland Pirates (93 games, 12 goals, 39 assists), Anaheim traded him to the Columbus Blue Jackets on November 15, 2007 with Aaron Rome for Geoff Platt.
The next two years would see Wilson spend 90 games with the Blue Jackets AHL Syracuse Crunch (19 goals, 40 assists). He also would enjoy his first NHL action, playing 12 games and scoring one goal with two assists. The Jackets sent him to the Atlanta Thrashers with a sixth round pick for Jason Williams on January 14, 2009.
Wilson closed out the season with the AHL Chicago Wolves (37 games, six goals, 18 assists), also playing in two NHL games with Atlanta. He signed on with the Panthers on July 2, 2009.
2009-10 would see Wilson spend a substanial portion of the season with the AHL Rochester Americans (75 games, 14 goals, 46 assists). He played two games with the Cats in April, registering a minus-5 rating without scoring.
In 2010-11, Wilson again played most of the year in Rochester (66 games, 12 goals, 36 assists). He also earned two callups to play in the NHL. He ended up scoring three goals on 22 shots over 15 games with the third pairing (15 minutes ATOI). Wilson also made two assists and finished the year with a plus-4 rating.
Wilson spent 2011-12 mostly with the Abbotsford Heat (66 games, 16 goals, 27 assists), making a quick stop with the Calgary Flames (five games).
All-TIme Statline: Two seasons, 17 games, three goals, two assists, five points, minus-1 rating, six PIM, 1.0 APS.
158. Erik Gudbranson
Gudbranson was a 6'5" defenseman from Ottawa who played three seasons with the OHL Kingston Frontenacs, in 148 games making 17 goals and 62 assists. The Panthers chose him with their first round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, third overall.
After a strong camp, Gudbranson was retained on the Panthers NHL roster for the first nine games of the season (the limit for a player to remain eligible to play in juniors). Gudbranson was raw, but the front office saw enough improvement over the short span to retain his services for the entire season.
The large 19-year old started out the season as a liability in the defensive end, as evidenced by his team low minus-19 rating. As the season wore on, he seemed to learn from pairing mate Ed Jovanovski. By the end of the year he was looking like a legitimate NHL defender. He's also a born leader, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a "C" on his sweater sometime in the next five years. In 72 games, he skated 1022 minutes as the team went 32-26-14 (.542). He potted two goals on 76 shots along with six assists and a team second highest 78 penalty minutes. He went on to appear in all seven Panthers playoff games, logging a minus-2 rating and eight PIM.
All-Time Statline: One season, 72 games, two goals, six assists, eight points, minus-19 rating, 78 PIM, 1.0 APS.
157. Vinny Prospal
Prospal was a left winger from Ceske Budejovice, Czech. The Philadelphia Flyers originally selected him in the third round of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, 71st overall.
Prospal spent his first three pro seasons (and most of his fourth) in the AHL with the Flyers minor league affiliates, the Hershey Bears (192 games, 42 goals, 89 assists) and the Philadelphia Phantoms (63 games, 32 goals, 63 assists). He made his NHL debut with the Flyers in 1996-97, totalling 10 goals and 23 assists through 59 games. The Flyers sent him to the Ottawa Senators with Pat Falloon and a second round pick for Alexandre Daigle on January 17, 1998.
With Ottawa, Prospal played in parts of four seasons, scoring 34 goals and 77 assists in 213 games. Ottawa traded him to the Panthers for "future considerations" on January 20, 2001.
Prospal would only play with the Cats for the remainder of the 2000-01 season. On two occasions he collected two assists, in 34 games finishing with four goals and 12 assists. After the season, the Panthers sent him to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a sixth round pick and Ryan Johnson.
Prospal has spent the intervening years with the Lightning (243 games, 59 goals, 120 assists, including an NHL fourth-best 57 in 2002-03), the Flyers (18 games, four goals, 10 assists), the New York Rangers (104 games, 29 goals, 52 assists), and the Columbus Blue Jackets (82 games, 16 goals, 39 assists).
All-Time Statline: One season, 34 games, four goals, 12 assists, 16 points, minus-2 rating, 10 PIM, 1.0 APS.
Thank you for reading today's entry in Florida Panthers history. Make sure you vote, leave some comments, and check back tomorrow for a Polish left winger and three Canadians, a center, a right winger and a defenseman.
Gudbranson: Sophomore slump or just starting to blossom?
Will remain on the third-pairing and put up similar numbers from last year (16 votes)
Will lose a lot of the gains he made, ending up a healthy scratch at least 20 games (1 vote)
300 hits, 100 PIM, six+ goals (39 votes)
56 total votes