On the second day of free agency the Florida Panthers signed Triston Grant and Bill Thomas for the Rochester Americans. When most people heard of the news today in Rochester they replied with, “who?” Both players may turn out to be decent, expectations were just a little bit higher though for the second day of free agency.
Bill Thomas is a right winger that is four games short of being considered a veteran player. He’s considered a decent player but also streaky. His best season in the AHL was 2007/08 with the San Antonio Rampage when he scored 24 goals and had 28 assists in 75 games. In a combined 72 games the past two seasons with the WB/S Penguins and Springfield Falcons he had a combined 13 goals and 22 assists.
He’s a gritty, gutsy left winger who has some skill, can definitely skate and isn’t afraid to fight anyone. This past season with the Milwaukee Admirals he scored 12 goals, assisted on 13 and also piled up his customary 200-ish penalty minutes (236). He has averaged 192 minutes for his five-year AHL career with the Philadelphia Phantoms and Admirals.
What the numbers don’t show is that he was a regular penalty killer for the Admirals the past two seasons. Two years ago, he was struck in the face by a slap shot and suffered a broken jaw. But before he sought medical attention, he finished his shift.
“You’re going to like seeing him play,” said Panthers assistant general manager Mike Santos, who until being hired yesterday by Florida was the guy overseeing operations in Milwaukee for the NHL’s Nashville Predators. “This is a 100-percent character guy.
“He’ll score 10-15 goals a year, get 200 penalty minutes a year, and I mean real minutes. He’s a voice in your locker room and he’s a leader on the ice.”
Santos says Grant is the type of player the Amerks have always had, the type that helps a team win. The Dane Jackson type. The Dan Frawley type.
The downside to Grant is that he takes up one of five veteran spots allowed on an AHL roster, something that became an issue for the Amerks last season. The way Mike Santos is selling Grant we’ll have to take his word and expect a dedicated player ready to lead the Amerks to wins.
You can see the rest of Grant’s fight card at hockeyfights.com.