Yesterday, we checked in on four mostly recent and current Panthers. RW Bill Thomas (31 games, five goals, three assists), D Clay WIlson (17 games, three goals, two assists), D Erik Gudbranson (72 games, two goals, three assists), and LW Vinny Prospal (34 games, four goals, 12 assists).
In today's rundown, we will look into three Canadians, a center, a right winger and a defenseman, along with everyone's favorite Polish left winger.
Click on through to read more.
156. Byron Ritchie
Ritchie was a 5'10" center from Burnaby, British Columbia. He was with the WHL Lethbridge Hurricanes when the Hartford Whalers chose him in the seventh round of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft with the 165th overall pick. In four seasons with the Hurricanes ending in 1996-97, he totalled 131 goals and 166 assists in 231 contests.
After appearing with the AHL Springfield Falcons for six games in 1995-96 (two goals, one assist), Ritchie wouldn't appear with another professional team until spending the entire 1997-98 season with the AHL Beast of New Haven, scoring 13 goals and 18 assists in 65 games. He also spent most of 1998-99 with the Beast, in 66 games scoring 24 goals and 33 assists. He also made his NHL debut, totalling three games with the parent club, now known as the Carolina Hurricanes (sorry, Donny).
1999-00 would see Ritchie split the season between the IHL Cincinnati Cyclones (34 games, eight goals, 13 assists), and Carolina (26 games, two assists). He spent the entire 2000-01 season with the Cyclones, totalling 31 goals and 35 assists in 77 games.
In 2001-02, Ritchie started the season with the AHL Lowell Lock Monsters (43 games, 25 goals, 30 assists), making a brief four game stop with the Hurricanes. Carolina traded him to the Panthers on January 16th with Sandis Ozolinsh for Bret Hedican, Kevyn Adams and Tomas Malec. He played in 31 games for the Panthers, scoring five goals and six assists. He tabbed two two-point games in back-to-back games in March, scoring a goal and three assists in a 3-3 tie with the Calgary Flames and a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Ritchie played 26 AHL games in 2002-03 with the San Antonio Rampage, splitting the season with the Panthers (30 goals, three assists). In 2003-04, he spent 50 games with the Panthers, totalling five goals and six assists. He signed a free agent contract with the Flames in 2004-05, but when the season was cancelled instead spent the year in Sweden with Rogle BK (30 games, 17 goals, 16 assists).
Ritchie has since spent time in the NHL with the Flames (109 games, 12 goals, eight assists) and the Vancouver Canucks (71 games, three goals, eight assists). He played the one season each over the last four years with the Swiss Geneve Servette (45 games, 22 goals, 38 assists), the KHL Minsk Dynamo (12 games, three goals, two assists), the Swedish Modo Hockey Ornskoldsvik (53 games, 23 goals, 21 assists) and the Swiss Bern (47 games, 22 goals, 21 assists).
All-Time Statline: Three seasons, 111 games, 10 goals, 15 assists, 25 points, minus-16 rating, 137 PIM, 1.0 APS.
155. Wojtek Wolski
Wolski was a 6'3" left winger from Zabrze, Poland. He played with the OHL Brampton Battalion from 2002-03 through 2005-06. The Colorado Avalanche picked him up with their first round pick of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft with the 21st overall pick. In four seasons with the Battalion, he ended up with 130 goals and 198 assists in 253 games.
Wolski has never skated in a minor league game. He played nine games with Colorado in 1995-96, scoring two goals with four assists before spending one last season in juniors. 2006-07 would see him open the season with the Avalanche. In parts of five seasons with the club, he collected 73 goals and 120 assists in 302 games. On March 3, 2010 he was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes for Kevin Porter and Peter Mueller.
Wolski spent parts of two seasons with Phoenix, totalling 12 goals and 22 assists in 54 games. He later played 46 games with the New York Rangers, scoring six goals and 16 assists in 46 games.
Florida acquired Wolski in February, 2012 to give the Panthers a little help in the shootout. He's a great puck handler and instinctive scorer who sometimes lacks intensity. He played 325 minutes over 22 games, scoring four goals on 39 shots, along with five assists, and a minus-3 rating. His status with the team is currently up in the air, but after five healthy scratches through the Panthers seven-game playoff series against New Jersey, it's become clear that Florida is probably not interested in retaining his services.
All-Time Statline: One season, 22 games, four goals, five assists, nine goals, minus-3 rating, zero PIM, 1.0 APS.
154. Tyson Strachan
Strachan was a 6'3" defenseman from Melfort, Saskatchewan. He was selected in the fifth round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes with the 137th overall pick.
After Strachan's selection, he elected instead to attend Ohio State University, spending four seasons playing collegiate hockey with the Buckeyes. He scored 13 goals with 22 assists in 119 games. He made his pro debut after graduating with the Class of 2007, playing in one contest with the AHL Albany River Rats.
2007-08 would see Strachan split the season between the ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers (25 games, two goals, seven assists) and the AHL Peoria Rivermen (34 games, one goal, two assists). In 2008-09 he made his NHL debut with the St. Louis Blues, collecting three assists over 30 games.
Strachan spent parts of three seasons with the Blues, making six assists in 67 games, along with 82 penalty minutes. He signed on with the Panthers as a free agent on July 12, 2011.
2011-12 would see Strachan open the season with the AHL San Antonio Rampage, scoring three goals with 14 assists in 50 contests. His services became necessary in Sunrise when the Panthers lost both Ed Jovanovski and Dmitry Kulikov to various ailments in January. He played 15 games with the Panthers, making two assists and scoring his first ever NHL goal, in the first period of a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders on February 12. He would tack on an assist in two playoff games for Florida. He's a solid, physical stay-at-home defenseman who is signed through next season.
All-Time Statline: One season, 15 games, one goal, two assists, three points, plus-1 rating, five PIM, 1.0 APS.
153. Donald Audette
Audette was a 5'8" right winger from Laval, Quebec. He was originally picked by the Buffalo Sabres in the ninth round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft with the 183rd overall pick.
Audette enjoyed a productive NHL career before joining Florida. After spending eight seasons (and part of a ninth) with the Sabres (421 games, 166 goals, 131 assists), he played with the Los Angeles Kings (98 games, 30 goals, 38 assists), the Atlanta Thrashers (78 games, 39 goals, 43 assists), the Dallas Stars (20 games, four goals, eight assists), and the Montreal Canadiens (90 games, 15 goals, 22 assists).
Audette was released by Montreal on January 15th, where the Panthers picked him up as a free agent. He finished out the season (and his career) with Florida. Through his first 27 games with the club, he totalled four goals and five assists. In the Panthers last game of the season, and in the last game of Audette's career, he scored two goals and collected two assists.
All-Time Statline: One season, 28 games, six goals, seven assists, 13 points, minus-9 rating, 22 PIM, 1.0 APS.
That's it for today's Florida Panthers history lesson. Check back tomorrow as we continue to climb towards the top with a Czech defenseman, a Russian left winger, a center from Ontario and a Massachusetts defenseman.