Through the jungles of South Florida to the outskirts of Sunrise to the center of the Bank Atlantic Center, lies a fierce battle between four players. Anthony Stewart, Tanner Glass, Michael Frolik and Shawn Matthias are the finalists for the greatest prize one could ever dream of, an NHL contract. Who will be eliminated from the Florida Peninsula?
First lets get to know the contestants...
The Florida Panthers received the 25th overall pick in the 2003 NHL draft, in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Panthers used the pick to draft Anthony Stewart. Stewart was drafted for his size and ability to get in front of the net, but Stewart has yet to develop into this player. He was expected to be a power forward who could put the puck in the net, but he has yet to truly find consistency in the NHL.
Tanner Glass was also drafted by the Panthers in the 2003 NHL draft. He was taken 265th overall. Glass was solid in the 2007-08 season playing 41 games and being a huge help in the Panthers physical game. Glass even scored a goal and added an assist, proving he can be productive at the NHL level. He needs to improve his offensive ability to become a main stay in the NHL.
With the 10th overall pick in the 2006 NHL draft the Florida Panthers selected Michael Frolik. Frolik has the skills and play-making ability to be a first line forward in the NHL. His physical game however is a bit of a weakness. Frolik has solid size at the height of 6-1, but lacks physical presence which could hurt his immediate production in the NHL. In my opinion Frolik will develop into a very good player, but when he will develop is the question.
The last contestant is prospect Shawn Matthias. Matthias was acquired from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Todd Bertuzzi. Matthias played four games for the Panthers last season and scored two goals during his time with them. The Panthers believe Matthias can truly blossom into an excellent top six forward. Matthias may be the closest to being ready out of all of the finalists.
All four of these players have solid potential, but three must be voted off the peninsula. Tanner Glass is first to be voted off, he still needs more time in the minors to develop into a physical, productive forward.
Stewart, Frolik and Matthias are all that remain. Who's next to be voted off? It is in my opinion Anthony Stewart. Stewart still lacks the ability to be physical and productive in front of the net and that is why he should be sent off the peninsula back to Rochester.
Two players stand in each others way for the coveted NHL contract. Frolik and Matthias will both be solid NHL players in the future, but I feel Frolik still needs to develop into a better all-around hockey player. He is the last to be voted off the peninsula, but I do feel Frolik could be ready for the NHL by mid-season.
Your winner and new Florida Panther is Shawn Matthias. Matthias will be an excellent addition to the Florida Panthers' offense. His size, physical play and offense will make him a player opposing teams must prepare for.
Hopefully the last player the Panthers add to their line-up will bring a solid two-way game to a team lacking depth at the forward position.