Welcome back to the LBC All-Time Florida Panther Roster Countdown. For an easy color-by-numbers to help you understand just what has happened here, and why certain players may be "too low" or "too high," click here for the details.
Yesterday, we touched on D Martin Lojek, LW Gaetan Duchesne, LW Gilbert Dionne, and LW Evgeny Davydov. Today, we'll get into the Florida careers of a defenseman from Massachusetts, a right winger and a defenseman from Ontario, and a Latvian center.
If this type of thing floats your boat, follow along after the jump.
192. Brad Norton
Norton was a 6'4" defenseman from Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was originally selected in the ninth round of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers with the 215th overall pick. In four collegiate seasons with UMASS-Amherst, he totalled eight goals and 47 assists and 304 penalty minutes in 119 games, graduating with the class of 1998. He played 33 games with the AHL Detroit VIpers later in 1997-98, scoring one goal and four assists with 56 PIM.
In 1998-99, Norton was promoted to the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs. He would play there for 144 games over three seasons, scoring nine goals with 35 assists and 352 PIM. After the 2000-01 season, he signed a free agent contract with the Panthers.
Norton started the 2001-02 season with the AHL Hershey Bears, assisting 10 goals in 40 games. He earned his first NHL callup in January, ultimately playing 22 games with the Panthers and collecting two assists with 45 penalty minutes. The Panthers elected not to extend him a contract after the season, so he signed on with the Los Angeles Kings.
Norton went on to score three goals and four assists in 73 contests over the next two seasons with the Kings. He later played for the Washington Capitals (16 games, one assist), the Ottawa Senators (seven games), and the Detroit Red Wings (six games, one assist).
All-Time Statline: One season, 22 games, zero goals, two assists, two points, minus-2 rating, 45 PIM, 0.3 APS.
191. Eric Cairns
Cairns was a 6'5" defenseman from Oakville, Ontario. He was with the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors of the OHL when the New York Rangers selected him in the third round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft with the 72nd overall pick. He spent two more seasons with the club after they changed their name to the Detroit Junior Red Wings, totalling 11 goals and 59 assists in 187 contests.
In 1994-95, Cairns made his pro debut with the AHL Binghampton Rangers (27 games, three assists), also logging 11 games in Birmingham with the ECHL Bulls (11 games, one goal, three assists). 1995-96 was spent mostly in Binghampton, where he scored one goal and 13 assists in 46 games.
Cairns opened 1996-97 with the NHL Rangers. In two seasons with the club he ended up playing 79 games and assisting on four goals with 239 PIM. They placed him on waivers in December of 1998, where the New York Islanders picked him up.
Most of the next six seasons would see Cairns remain on the Islanders NHL roster, playing 327 games and scoring nine goals and 27 assists and 714 PIM. Florida signed him as a free agent during the 2004 offseason. When the 2004-05 season didn't happen, he spent the season in the British League, playing 22 games with the London Racers, scoring two goals and six assists.
2005-06 would see Cairns open the season on the Panthers NHL roster. In 23 goals he collected one assist and 37 penalty minutes. The Panthers traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a sixth round draft choice on January 18th. In 27 games over the rest of the season, plus one game in the following season, he scored one goal with 92 PIM. He retired after the season, and is currently a scout for the New York Islanders.
Eric Godard vs Cairns Nov 19, 2005 (via hockeyfightsdotcom)
All-Time Statline: One season, 23 games, zero goals, one assist, one point, plus-1 rating, 37 PIM, 0.3 APS.
190. Janis Sprukts
Sprukts was a 6'3" center from Riga, Latvia. He was playing with the Latvian National Team when the Panthers selected him in the eighth round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft with the 234th overall pick. He would continue to appear with the Latvian team through 2009-10. He also appeared in professional Latvian, Finnish, Danish and Russian Leagues through the 2011-12 season. For the last three seasons he has played with the KHL Riga Dynamo, scoring 32 goals and 65 assists in 159 contests.
Sprukts made his North American Professional debut with the Rochester Americans in 2006-07, scoring 18 goals and 41 assists in 58 games. He was called up the Florida on three occasions over the course of the season. He scored his first career NHL goal in a 7-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 6th. He would finish the season with that goal plus two assists in 13 NHL games.
After another season overseas, Sprukts rejoined the Panthers organization in 2008-09, playing 59 games for the Americans and scoring 16 goals with 31 assists. He also made one more NHL appearance, not impacting the scoresheet as the Boston Bruins shut out the Panthers 4-0 on December 6th.
Janis Sprukts - First goal in NHL (via chiekurs16)
All-Time Statline: Two seasons, 14 games, one goal, two assists, three points, plus-1 rating, two PIM, 0.3 APS.
189. Matt Bradley
Bradley was a 6'3" right winger from Stittsville, Ontario. He was with the OHL Kingston Frontenacs when the San Jose Sharks selected him in the fourth round of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft with the 102nd overall pick. In three OHL seasons he managed 67 goals and 88 assists in 175 contests.
Bradley made his professional debut in 1996-97, playing one game with the AHL Kentucky Thoroughblades. His next appearance in the pros wouldn't be until 1998-99 with Kentucky. Over the next two seasons, he appeared exclusively with the club, scoring 45 goals and 39 assists in 159 games.
In 2000-01, Bradley made his first NHL appearance, earning four callups to the Sharks over the course of the season. In 121 games over three years, he scored 12 goals and 17 assists with 99 PIM.
The Sharks sent him off to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Wayne Primeau on March 11th, 2003. In the 2003-04 season, Bradley played all 82 Penguins games, scoring seven goals and nine assists with a minus-27 rating and 65 penalty minutes. When the 2004-05 season was cancelled, Bradley signed on for one season with Dornbirn of the Austrian-2 League, scoring seven points in six games.
2005-06 would see the NHL return to action, and Bradley returned to North America as a member of the Washington Capitals. He would spend six years in the nation's capital, playing 427 games and scoring 37 goals and 59 assists and a minus-10 rating with 367 penalty minutes. He added three goals and eight assists in 37 playoff games.
On July 2nd, 2011, Bradley signed a two-year contract with Florida. 2011-12 would see him skate 489 minutes through 45 games, missing a substantial chunk of the season with a concussion. He ended up scoring three goals on 33 shots, assisting on five others with a minus-3 rating and 31 penalty minutes. The Panthers went 20-16-9 (.544) with Bradley on the ice.
Bradley is a fearless agiator, but considering his size will always be limited in the enforcer capacity. His low end offensive skillset will always relegate him to the fourth line. Aside from this, he's a great presence for the Panthers and never goes at half-speed. He is signed for the 2012-13 season for $1 million.
All-Time Statline: One season, 45 games, three goals, five assists, eight points, minus-3 rating, 31 PIM, 0.3 APS.
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