Sergei Bobrovsky was Sportsnet’s choice for the Florida Panthers in its One player who has to deliver for each Atlantic Division team article. A worthy selection as a lot will be on Bob’s shoulders, especially in the early going of the new season.
After knocking off some big-time Stanley Cup contenders last playoff season and getting all the way to the Final, do not forget that Florida only qualified for the East’s final wild card spot by a single point, and probably wouldn’t have made it had the Penguins not tripped over themselves against the lowly Blackhawks. So, remember, what brought them playoff success only just barely got them through the regular season.
There will be key injuries to start this new season on the back end (Aaron Ekblad, Brandon Montour) and Radko Gudas’ understated presence and physical game left via free agency, so more pressure will fall on the goalies. Sergei Bobrovsky was integral in getting Florida to the Final (after Alex Lyon led a shocking streak to the playoffs) but he was again below average (.901 save percentage) through the regular season. It’s unlikely he’ll ever return to his previous Vezina form, but now the $10-million goalie is turning 35 in September and Florida needs him to elevate, lest the Panthers slip behind early, chase all season, and risk following up the franchise’s most successful campaign ever with another highly disappointing one.
While Bobrovsky is the player in focus, we should also note that Spencer Knight could be a factor here, too. Knight entered the NHL-NHLPA’s Player Assistance Program in February and it’s believed he could return to the team for camp. Florida’s “goalie of the future,” Knight didn’t play himself into a bigger workload last season but, as Bobrovsky ages, that transition to 22-year-old Knight has to start happening.
Elliot Ekmark skated on the third line in Almtuna’s 5-3 victory over Brynäs in a preseason game from Sweden’s HockeyAllsvenskan. Ekmark was not among the goal-scorers in the game. Assists for Almtuna were not listed online.
2021 fifth-rounder Kirill Gerasimyuk served as the backup goaltender in SKA Neva St. Petersburg’s 3-1 win over HC Yugra in regular season action from Russia’s Supreme Hockey League (VHL).
The Anaheim Ducks signed defenseman Tristan Luneau to an entry-level contract. Anaheim selected Luneau in the second round (53rd overall) of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. He produced 20 goals and 83 points in 65 games with the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL last season.
Forwards Emily Clark and Brianne Jenner, and goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer became the first players to sign contracts with the PWHL. The trio agreed to terms on three-year contracts that will run through the 2026 season with the new league’s Ottawa franchise.
According to reports, Marie-Philip Poulin is slated to ink a deal with Montreal while Sarah Nurse will land in Toronto. Joining Poulin in Montreal will be goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens and forward Laura Stacey. Canadian National team members Renata Fast and Blayre Turnbull will join Nurse in Toronto.
The New York City area franchise signed American stars Abby Roque and Alex Carpenter.
Montreal, Ottawa and Montreal have now signed the maximum three players before the initial pre-draft free agent window closes. New York has one more spot available while Boston and Minnesota have yet to sign anyone.