The 2010 edition of free agency is set to begin at Noon EST today and we may not see immediate moves by the Florida Panthers and Rochester Americans but there definitely will be. A lot of people still consider the Panthers a “bad parent club” but they did a very good job partnered with the Amerks in building a successful AHL team last season. A few minor upgrades (defense and coach) and the team is already better.
One move that seems to have been overlooked is that the Panthers acquired Michael Grabner in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks. The Panthers sent Keith Ballard and Victor Oreskovich to the Canucks in exchange. Grabner has spent the majority of the past four seasons (180 games) with the Manitoba Moose and is good for 20 goals and 20 assists. He’s not a veteran player based on games, but he’s a fast skater and team him up with a speedy center and we’ll have a reliable scoring line.
Jamie Johnson has already said that he’s been in contact with the Panthers and would be willing to come back. Johnson was a leader on the ice and led the team in scoring. He ended the season with a disgruntled exit (for good reason – mostly because of Benoit Groulx though) but that’s all in the past. Styres, Staats, Gage and Nolan run the front office very well here in Rochester and that is what would attract a player back here. The dedication to winning is very attractive.
To stay current on any moves book mark my Twitter account at http://twitter.com/LetsGoAmerks. You DO NOT need to sign up for an account, just bookmark that page for any breaking news. If you do have an account, you can go there and sign up for free text alerts that will be sent to your phone so you don’t have to refresh often.
If this July is anything like last July we should be getting a lot of good news. In case you forgot, here’s a recap of the first half of July 2009:
The Amerks hired Ted Nolan on the first day of free agency. Nolan has been a great addition for the Amerks not only for player relations but also working with the business community. A name and face for the franchise that can sell.
The Panthers signed Clay Wilson on July 2nd to a two year contract that was two way the first season and one way this upcoming season. Wilson has not been written into the Panthers defensive core by any of the paid experts, he could come back as an Amerk.
Jeff Taffe was signed on July 3rd and immediately added some offense to the team. His contract was also a two way last season and one way this upcoming season. That’s $1.5 Million in salaries if both Taffe and Wilson spend most of the season with the Amerks.
Graham Mink was signed on July 10th, Jamie Johnson on July 15th and Chris Taylor signed on July 16th. Mink was a great upgrade and is probably most remembered for being a healthy scratch in game 7 of the playoffs. His season was rocky after he was out of the lineup with a back injury but a healthy Mink is an opposing goalies worst nightmare. Taylor did everything expected of him averaging almost a point a game.
Mink and Taylor will be back in an Amerks uniform.
Mike York was signed later in the summer on August 21st. York was also signed to a one year deal and his future is unknown. Some fans complained about his lack of speed but that’s something he made up for with the way he handled the puck. Any of York’s teammates knew that if they simply put their stick on the ice that York would put the puck on their stick for an easy play.
Below is a potential Rochester Americans lineup for the 2010/2011 season. I did not include Jeff Taffe or Clay Wilson since they’re technically on one way contracts. I also did not include Shawn Matthias or Jason Garrison since they’re likely to make the Panthers roster out of training camp. It’ll take a disaster of an off season for either of them to not make the big club.
Chris Taylor, Graham Mink, Michael Grabner, Michal Repik, Evgeny Dadonov, Mike Duco, Kenndal McArdle, A.J. Jenks, Scott Timmins, Eric Selleck
Keaton Ellerby, Michael Caruso, Jordan Henry, Colby Robak, Adam Comrie
Jacob Markstrom, Alexander Salak, Tyler Plante, Marc Cheverie
Two players not included are Brady Calla and James DeLory. Neither of those players have seemed to fit into a regular role of any kind the past two seasons.
Dale Tallon has a lot of credibility and was the guy that built the Chicago Blackhawks roster that won the Stanley Cup this season. He has said that he’s looking to build through the draft and that no player will get an easy ride. A lot of people have already written off the Florida Panthers, but all signs are pointing to the organization heading in the right direction.
Time will tell, but for now there’s still a lot of reasons to be excited to be an Amerks fan.
Again, to stay current on any moves book mark my Twitter account at http://twitter.com/LetsGoAmerks, it’s easy to break any news through there that does also appear on the home page of this site.