A few familiar faces for Rochester Americans fans will probably not be returning to the Florida Panthers organization next season as the free agency period is about to begin. The only two restricted free agents that were offered qualifying offers were David Booth and David Brine.
David Brine finished last season with 31 points (8 goals, 23 assists) and was the Amerks best center at taking face offs. Brine played nine games during the 2007-2008 season for the Panthers. This will be his year to step up his game.
Former Amerks from previous seasons Anthony Stewart, Drew Larman, David Shantz, Franklin MacDonald, and Tanner Glass were not given offers and allowed to become unrestricted free agents.
Luke Beaverson will likely replace the role MacDonald had on defense. We’re hoping that a veteran center will be signed to replace Larman. Tyler Plante, Alexander Salak, and Chris Beckford-Tseu will be fulfilling goaltending duties in the Panthers system.
The only real surprise here was Tanner Glass, but Florida Panthers Assistant GM Randy Sexton said that they would like to sign him again. The play of Glass last season was hampered by a shoulder injury that he eventually had surgery on which leads me to believe that the Panthers want to wait and see how his recovery is going. When he’s healthy Glass plays with grit and works hard. The shoulder injury had been hampering his play for some time which explains many of the games where he did not appear to “show up.”
No real surprises with Larman, Shantz, and MacDonald not being given offers. David Shantz showed some promise at the end of last season but it was a case of too little too late. Larman and MacDonald also played well at times but in terms of development it was not enough for the Panthers to keep them around.
It’s also no surprise to any Amerks fans that Anthony Stewart was not qualified. The Panthers wanted to sign Stewart to another two way deal last summer but Stewart won by getting an NHL only deal, something he was not able to prove he deserved. I could have told anyone that was going to happen.
Steve Gorten of the Sun-Sentinel talked to Stewart who said:
I spoke to Stewart on the phone a little after 5 p.m. He said he was “disappointed” and it “definitely didn’t go the way I wanted it to go.” He hoped to do more on the ice and the Panthers expected he would do more.
If there’s any opening for a gritty fourth line winger on the Panthers it’ll be a perfect opportunity for Mike Duco to try and get a chance playing in the show. Panthers head coach Pete Deboer coached Duco when he played for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. Duco is an agitator but can also provide offensive talent. Given the past relationship between Duco and Deboer it’s only a matter of time before he’s playing in the NHL.
Janis Sprukts is an unrestricted free agent but as expected the Panthers are letting him leave without trying to sign him again. Sprukts had signed last summer expecting to get a chance at playing for the Panthers but the plan was just for him to play in the AHL with the Amerks, something Sprukts was not happy with. Sprukts is heading back to Europe.
The Panthers 2009 sixth round draft pick Scott Timmins is expected to replace the roster spot that Sprukts took last season.
Wednesday is when the free agency period starts, a time that the Amerks and Panthers have said they will be active in to improve the Rochester Americans.