By Jim Charshafian
At the Florida Panthers’ development camp last week, forward Drew Shore and defenseman Alex Petrovic took a look around the ice and noticed the high level of talent surrounding them. No one had to tell them that the Panthers’ prospects have been rated one of the league’s best over the last two years; they were witnessing that first-hand.
“You see the young guys coming up and see the potential that they have,” said Petrovic,” and it’s almost scary because they could potentially be taking your job. You don’t want to take a shift off because of that. You always want to be at your best.”
For players like Petrovic and Shore, who both finished last season with Rampage, the camp serves as an opportunity for them to showcase their skills to Florida’s coaches and executives who might not get a chance to see them at various levels within the organization during the season.
Although no one secures or loses a roster spot at development camp, both players and coaches embrace the opportunity to become more familiar with one another. Panthers’ general manager Dale Tallon oversaw team practices while Rampage head coach Chuck Weber and Florida assistants Brian Skrudland and Bryan McCabe ran drills on ice.
“It was my first prospect camp and it was an unbelievable experience,” said Shore. “Certainly, the organization has a lot of great prospects so to be on the ice with all of them was fun. Even the scrimmage on the last day was very competitive.”
Petrovic believes that having so many good, young players on the ice at the same time can only serve as a positive.
“There’s a lot of competition,” he said, “and that’s what makes you better because you have to play against guys who play the same position.”
In addition to the instruction the players received at the rink, they were also given lessons on how to handle their personal lives as they transition to becoming professionals.
“We had a meeting on how to handle our finances and a sports psychology meeting, among some other things,” said Shore. “They presented us with a lot of information that’s going to help us in the years to come.”
Just like any day camp, the players had time available to hang out away from the ice and get to know one another.
“It’s a great time,” said Petrovic, who was attending his second development camp. “You go there and show people you haven’t met who you are. We went to the beach to hang out. You get to meet the new draft prospects and see some of the other guys from San Antonio so it’s always a fun time, that’s for sure.”
As the prospects headed back home to continue training for next season, they were well aware of what kind of competition to expect when they get back to Florida in the fall.
“You know that there are a lot of elite players,” said Shore, “and that there’s going to be a battle for roster spots in training camp.”
“The future of the franchise is very bright,” added Petrovic. “It’s an exciting time to be a Florida prospect.”