A day removed from a bonding experience at the beach and community service projects, Florida's prospects returned to the ice for the final day of practice before Friday's scrimmage beginning at 9:00 a.m. Twitter Feed of today's action:
First group on the Ice: strictly forwards pic.twitter.com/bBEChrxzXs— Shane O'Donnell (@shane1342o) July 10, 2014
They split the forwards and defense up today, and worked on position specific drills. For the forwards, there was a lot of movement along the boards, and controlling the puck both in the zone and through the neutral zone.
Grimaldi has a coast to coast goal and a beautiful feed already.— Shane O'Donnell (@shane1342o) July 10, 2014
Grimaldi far and away the most impressive forward in drills today. He really wants to make a name for himself this year. #FlaPanthers— Highland Park Hockey (@H_P_Hockey) July 10, 2014
Grimaldi scores in the shootout as well.— Shane O'Donnell (@shane1342o) July 10, 2014
Rocco Grimaldi was dominant today. In the 3 on 3 scrimmage, he picked apart the opposing players. In the shootout, had a couple of nifty moves. Kid really is going to make the decision tough on management this year.
The 1st practice of the day ends with a shootout. All forwards out there minus Hawryluk (left early) and Barkov (absent). #FlaPanthers— Highland Park Hockey (@H_P_Hockey) July 10, 2014
Barkov not skating today #flapanthers— Harvey Fialkov (@hfialkov) July 10, 2014
Aleksander Barkov was out; general manager Dale Tallon later noted "(Barkov) has nothing to prove here." He's already been a dominant force in his short time at the NHL level, and is even more dominant against his peers. I wouldn't be too concerned that he was absent today. As for Jayce Hawryluk, the injury didn't appear serious, and per director of player development Brian McCabe, wasn't. He was most likely taken off as a precautionary measure.
Second group on the ice, all defensemen pic.twitter.com/GK5UMcErAc— Shane O'Donnell (@shane1342o) July 10, 2014
Lots of passing for the defenseman, emphasis on controlling the puck when coming out of the zone. Very encouraging.— Shane O'Donnell (@shane1342o) July 10, 2014
I've been impressed with Michael Matheson in the defenseman portion of today's practices. Good skater, quick release and hard accurate shot.— Highland Park Hockey (@H_P_Hockey) July 10, 2014
Not much else to add. Matheson seemed to be one of the best during the skating drills. According to McCabe, the biggest change he's witnessed is his strength. Not just on the ice, but off it as well, as he has put in the effort to make himself more of a physical force.
Racine the big surprise of the D-Men. Looks good.— Shane O'Donnell (@shane1342o) July 10, 2014
Jonathan Racine looked good, and got a rave review from McCabe: "He’s got the heart of a lion, that kid. Nothing is going to hold him back. There is no off switch. He works all the time, tirelessly. He is a great teammate. He’ll do anything to get to this league. I am really excited for him. He’s making strides."
Weegar the only defenseman to score so far. Beautiful move, slick hands.— Shane O'Donnell (@shane1342o) July 10, 2014
Downing also nets one.— Shane O'Donnell (@shane1342o) July 10, 2014
MacKenzie Weegar really looked terrific out there. McCabe notes that although Weegar isn't as big as the other blueliners, "he's got the skill level. He's as smart a player as we saw last year at the rookie camp, and he earned the invite to main camp last year on his instincts alone. He may not be the biggest guy, the fastest guy, but he thinks the game better than anyone out there. His ability to read plays and have gap control and control powerplays makes him a special guy." Sounds like a steal from the seventh round. Hope he pans out to be that top four defenseman who can do wonders for a powerplay.
As for Michael Downing, he's sort of flown under the radar thus far, but he has moments where he really impresses. He exceeded expectations last year by jumping into the top four with the University of Michigan as a freshman, and appears he has the potential to challenge for a roster spot in the future.
Once more, scrimmage tomorrow at 9 from Coral Springs featuring "Team Red" vs. "Team Blue". Should be a fun display of the organization's future. For those that can't attend, I will once again be updating via twitter (@shane1342o). Hopefully, the buzz on the young guns this week hasn't just been buzz, and we'll see many of them in Panther jerseys during the next few seasons.