Florida Panthers 2014 Development Camp: Recapping Day Five

Team Red, victors of the intra-squad scrimmage. - Shane O'Donnell

In the final day of the annual development camp, Team Red triumphed over Team Blue before a packed Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs.

Camp is now complete, and the 36 prospects that the Panthers brought to South Florida head home, where most will prepare for another year or so of development before returning for their shot at the pro roster.  Day Five, however, was by far the most entertaining event of the week, as draft selections and invitees showcased their offensive skills in a 6-5 shootout victory for Team Red (full downloadable rosters here).

As for the scrimmage itself, Team Red went up 3-0 (goals courtesy of Mike Vecchione, Logan Shaw and Tony Turgeon) before five straight goals by Team Blue (Cody Payne, Aaron Ekblad, Miguel Fidler, Juho Lammikko & Zach Hyman) made it 5-3. Team Red quickly roared back to tie it at 5 (Colin Suellentrop, Connor Brickley). Following a scoreless overtime period in which the new AHL 3-on-3 rules were tested, Team Red won it in the shootout thanks to Yaroslav Kosov.

Twitter feed of the action:

Note: Team Blue was dressed in white sweaters. Seems whomever drew up the names might have been colorblind?

Wow, does MacKenzie Weegar have serious skill at creating offense. The kid is a wizard coming through the neutral zone with the puck, or stepping up in the rush late and taking a shot in the high slot. It's very easy to see why Dale Tallon already has him penciled in as potential power play quarterback of the future.


Unfortunately, as good as Weegar is offensively, he got used on the rush by two stay-at-home blueliners.  He really helps the team control the puck, so I wouldn't be too critical of his defense, but he's most likely going to need a year or two in San Antonio before making the jump.

Mike Vecchione is a hustle guy, with good hands, who is hard to push off the puck.  He really looks like a Jesse Winchester-type (perhaps with a bit more finesse) and could be a good role player in the future. (He isn't signed to the Panthers; he's an invitee from Union College.)

On the topic of Ekblad, however...

Tried to do too much with the puck, sometimes.  He still made some great plays and controlled the tempo of the game, but he needs to utilize his teammates more, and trust that they can make great plays too.

Wow. What a cannon. This is exactly what the Panthers have been lacking on the power play. Ekblad unleashed an absolute bomb from the right side. Goaltender Evan Cowley really had no chance on it. Here's Ek following the scrimmage (FTR: all videos via the club):


Payne may have had two points in the scrimmage, but one was a very weak goal and the other was really all Ekblad.  Other than that, he seemed just a half step behind some of the other guys, and very seldom was able to help the team control the puck.  I was really rooting for him, but I don't think that he's got a legitimate shot at the NHL level.

Not sure how else to say it, and I've said it before, but Hugo Fagerblom appears very raw right at this early stage.  Really needs a lot of work, but the potential to be great is there.

This was the third line, but they controlled most of the play and I would call them the most dominant. Hyman took a kid fresh out of high school (Fidler) and a player filling in for an injured Chris Clapperton (Spisso) and made them part of the most effective trio. I wasn't counting, but the Corsi of this line for sure would have been north of 55%.  Oh, and they scored:

Hyman had the assist on Fidler's goal; found Fidler trailing in the slot and the recent draftee picked his corner and buried it.

Zach heads back to the University of Michigan to begin his senior year.  His numbers haven't been impressive on the surface, but coach Red Berenson has had him in a defensive role on the third and fourth lines.  He's most likely going to be playing right wing, among the top 6 forwards now. Soon to be unleashed on offense, watch out for Hyman; he should log some terrific stats next season.

Jonathan Racine was one of the biggest standouts of the camp. One thing I believe has gone under the radar is how much he is willing to stand up to a challenge. Per Brian Skrudland, "He's not the biggest guy, he's not the smallest, but I guarantee you he's probably the bravest... If I had to pick out of the whole lot, and take one guy out of my corner, if we were gonna get at it with a whole army... I would want him by my side."


Add that to Brian McCabe recently stating he has the "Heart of a lion", and I think it's pretty clear that Racine is making a serious case to be considered for not only top line AHL minutes, but also depth minutes at the NHL level.

Great pick by Tallon.  Speed, size, finesse, and a great shot.

Great save on a Vincent Trocheck penalty shot. G Colin Stevens doesn't "wow";  he just seems to win. He won with Union, and when he and Cowley switched, the Red Team had a 3-0 lead.  Winners tend to stay in organizations, and for one that's been generally a losing proposition for so long, adding a winner like Stevens might be a smart move.

No concern here.

As for Kyle Rau, he's really determined to finish up in Minnesota.  The main reason to go back was to finish things off; both his degree, and the business that was left on the ice in the Gophers' loss to Union.  I wish Kyle the best of luck, so long as he doesn't pull a Corban Knight. For further viewing, here's the full interview with Rau.

Other standouts:

Trocheck (below) - Did well, really controlled play. Sometimes passed too much, instead of making the play himself.


Rocco Grimaldi - Wowed with his feistiness and speed.  Could have had a goal, but shot rang off the crossbar.  Overall, had himself a helluva camp.

These are just a few of the names involved on the final day. I can provide deeper info on what I saw from other participants in either the comments section below or via twitter (@shane1342o).

Also, look at @turbuLENTZ for some great pictures of the development camp.  Most of the players are using his shots for their Instagram profiles and etc.

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