Erik Gudbranson is a 6-foot-4, 200-pound defenseman that Florida Panthers fans have been waiting on since he was drafted No. 3 overall in 2010. In the opening game of the Rookie Tournament in Coral Springs, Fla., fans got a glimpse of his brute force in this tussle with Carter Ashton of the Tampa Bay Lightning:
Gudbranson, playing very physical throughout the game, but most notably in the third period as he got a penalty for roughing 5:45 into the third and squared off with Lightning right winger Carter Ashton in a fight. Gudbranson slammed Ashton to the ground in the end. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed it as chants of "Lets Go Panthers" resonated throughout the Iceplex.
Ashton's no smurf: He's 6-3 and listed at 220. Gudbranson had seven fights last season in the OHL and one memorable one in the NHL preseason in which Travis Moen took advantage of the rookie being pinned by a linesman to land some cheap shots. (Remember Darcy Hordichuk threatening retribution?)
Meanwhile, another defensive prospect with some sandpaper dropped the gloves in his rookie tournament: Dylan McIlrath of the New York Rangers, manhanding Olivier D'Aoust of the Dallas Stars:
The Rangers defeated the Stars in the Traverse City game, 6-2. McIlrath told us at the Draft in 2010, where he was selected 10th overall, that he gets his nasty streak from his father, who played rugby. He won that scrum.
UPDATE: One more from Sunday night, as Adam Polasek of the Vancouver Canucks smokes Colten Teubert of the Edmonton Oilers.