The second day of free agency has started and even though there were not any players signed for the Amerks, the Panthers did hire Mike Santos to be the new assistant general manager. Santos will be overseeing the Amerks and he already spent most his first day working with Jody Gage. A month ago I wrote that things were not all doom and gloom saying the lines of communication will be open, the Amerks are looking forward to an improved season, and everyone will have an open mind. That’s exactly what has happened.
The Amerks were considered Calder Cup contenders for the 09/10 season and will be again this season. That’s assuming there isn’t a long stretch of injuries, call ups and internal disagreements with the coaching staff.
Here’s more about the open lines of communication from Steve Gorten:
Tallon said Santos will work closely with AHL Rochester’s director of player personnel Jody Gage and the rest of the Americans brass, so it looks like the Panthers’ rocky relationship with its minor-league affiliate can be smoothed over. In fact, Tallon said Santos and Gage were on the phone all day working together to sign some AHL free agents.
Santos sounds like a much better option than Jack Birch was in his tenure with the Panthers.
“Significant signings” may be on the horizon in the near future for the Amerks. From Kevin O:
I asked Santos how much of his duties will be devoted to Rochester and he said, “They’ve taken up most of my day today, and I mean that in a good way. I spoke with Jody Gage (director of hockey operations) five or six times today. We’re very close to signing some significant players.”
One significant signing has already happened, Jacob Markstrom. He’s considered one of the top goalie prospects in the world and all signs point to him spending the season in Rochester. Toss in Graham Mink and Chris Taylor who were signed last summer who will be back to lead the offense there’s good reason to be excited.
The general vibe surrounding the Florida Panthers since the arrival of Dale Tallon has changed from being skeptical to being optimistic about the years ahead. Just because the Panthers and Amerks are heading into the last season of the current affiliation agreement does not mean that the Panthers are going to put a bad team on the ice in the minors.
By the time the summer is over the Rochester Americans will once again be considered one of the top teams in the American Hockey League and that’s something to look forward to. Stay tuned!