The Florida Panthers made several roster moves yesterday. On September 12, the Panthers assigned 17 players to their AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, and loaned two other players back to their respective junior teams. While no big-name players were assigned elsewhere, there were a few young prospects in the group that fans might have seen this season.
The American Hockey League doesn't fall under the jurisdiction of the same players union as the NHL, instead the AHL is represented by the PHPA. Even if an NHL lockout happens, there will be no disruption in play in the AHL or any other minor league. Most of the players that the Cats assigned to the Rampage are guys who would have probably ended up there anyway but there were a few young prospects that the Panthers probably want to keep on the ice.
There were a few notable prospects that the Cats sent down to the AHL in this move. Guys like Quinton Howden, Drew Shore, Colby Robak, and Alex Petrovic are all players who have a shot at playing in South Florida if the NHL has a season this year.
In the same day the Panthers sent Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck back to their juniors teams. Huberdeau is an exciting forward with explosive speed and a nose for the net. The Panthers drafted Huberdeau third overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. For now, the 19-year-old will return to the Saint John Sea Dogs of the CHL to refine his chops until the Cats call him back to South Florida.
The idea of an NHL lockout still looms. Unless a deal is reached by 11:59 p.m. on September 15 the league will impose a player lockout until a deal between the NHL and the NHL Players Association on a new collective bargaining agreement can be reached.
Young players need to stay on the ice. Many of the players that the Panthers reassigned on Wednesday are prospects who are still developing as potential NHL players. It would be nice to have guys like Huberdeau in Florida but at this point there is no guarantee that the Panthers will proceed with their training camp that's scheduled to begin on Monday, September 17. It's better to have these guys on the ice in San Antonio or Canada rather than not at all.
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Kristian Eberwein is a freelance journalist from Orlando, Florida. He was an English major at the University of Central Florida and has been a part of the Florida hockey community for the past twenty years. Follow him on Twitter @KrisEberwein