With the lockout over and players returning from overseas, the Florida Panthers management spared no time to jump on a chance to upgrade their forward lines. Long time Avalanche and 50 point player Marek Svatos will reportedly attend training camp with the Panthers, which is set to begin towards the end of the week. This move seems to stem from the likely loss of three Panthers players whose injuries sustained in Europe during the lockout may keep them out of the opening night lineup. Sean Bergenheim, Marcel Goc and Shawn Matthias received injuries, leaving openings on the forward lines for an unknown amount of time. With 10 Panther forwards under contract and rookie Jonathan Huberdeau healthy, the last spot is up for grabs between Svatos and camp attendees from the San Antonio Rampage, namely Drew Shore and possibly Quinton Howden.
The question mark surrounding the 30 year old Svatos is whether he can stay healthy, or if he's even healthy enough for NHL ice time to begin with. Svatos is a gifted scorer with speed and great hands, though he's never strung together more than 69 games in a season. His most recent NHL stint(10-11 split between the Predators and Senators) was cut short by a concussion, forcing him to sit out the entire 11-12 season. Hopefully his 21 month resting period has removed him from these concerns, though he will still have to prove himself to be healthy before being given a contract.
The added competition in camp will force players like Jack Skille, Mike Santorelli(who may have to clear re-entry waivers) and Jerred Smithson to defend their spots from Svatos and San Antonio's second highest scorer Drew Shore. With injuries accounted for, the Panthers opening night forward lines may roughly resemble:
Tomas Fleischmann-Stephen Weiss-Kris Versteeg
Jonathan Huberdeau-Peter Mueller-Scottie Upshall
Tomas Kopecky-Mike Santorelli-Marek Svatos
Jack Skille-Jerred Smithson-George Parros
Alex Calloway kindly prepared the following table of Svatos' last three seasons for your perusal:
Marek Svatos highlights: