Teams will push on and create plays with the hope of putting the puck in the back of the net, however when the play is with the opposition and you’re on the back foot you need decent men at the back. This season Panthers have brought in 4 new blue liners alongside testimonial man Steve Lee, returning Canadian Tim Billingsley plus youngsters Josh Tetlow and Joe Hazledine. Here we look at the new men protecting us.
#6 Dylan Olsen:
Son of former Panther Daryl, Dylan was one of the stand out signings, not only for panthers but for the league itself. Olsen was a 2009 Round 1 #28 pick for the Chicago Blackhawks and went on to play 28 NHL games in their 2011/12 season and 44 games at their affiliates The Rockford Icehogs. He then went on to Florida Panthers to play a further 96 games in 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16.
I’m confident in saying that he’s one of the most experienced former NHLers, in the league, despite his age and a real coo signing. He also can chip in with assists, last season with Adirondeck in the ECHL he assisted 18 times in 50 games, a decent haul for a man who describes himself as a stay at home D man, something that we missed last season.
I’d not be surprised to see him get a vast amount of minutes in games. We have seen for ourselves in pre season that he’s no shrinking violet. He has made plenty of checks and often uses his physicality. He has also added to our offense setting up plays. He should be a key man for us. His NHL experience will be key factor in this.
52# Tommy Hughes:
The 26 year old from London, Ontario, Canada comes to Nottingham fresh from the South Carolina Stingrays where he played 39 times last season in the ECHL along with 10 games at Washington Capital affiliates the Hershey Bears in the AHL. Previously to that he had 226 games for the Hartford Wolf pack in the same league.
Hughes is very much in the ilk of Olsen, a stay at home blueliner and along with the former, will shore up our defence. He has played all of the pre-season matches bar the MAC Budapest match and has been steady throughout.
The majority of his time in Hockey has been in the AHL, with the affiliates of an NHL team, namely the New York Rangers. Despite not being a draft pick, it’s clear to me he is much thought of and will be a fantastic addition to the team.
28# Gui Lepine:
This man needs no introduction. A fans favourite, key figure in the dressing room and a man that coach Chernomaz has decided to give the responsibility of being the Captain to. This something the Grand Slam winner will certainly relish.
It was a slow start for Lepine in the pre season encounters however towards the end of these fixtures he had picked up the pace and we saw the player we remembered and admired greatly.
Since his time at Panthers he has gone on to play 315 matches in the AHL and the ECHL, scoring 65 points in the process. He comes back to Nottingham with experience under his belt, fans will be hoping he has matured as a player and this should be further enhanced with him carrying the C. A key player in my opinion, certainly one to watch.
93# Jaynen Rissling
Rissling comes to Nottingham from ECHL Indy Fuel, the team of former Panther Josh Shalla. He is a 2012 round 7 #97 draft pick for the Washington Capitals, who went on to gain further experience in the ECHL despite not making the grade in Washington.
Along with Gui Lepine, Rissling is the second tallest player at Panthers behind Josh Tetlow at a staggering 6’4″. He has shown us over the pre season that he can skate and has speed and poise. He also knows how to play the puck, this evident in a pin point diagonal pass from the defensive end towards Brett Perlini, to score the first goal in the win against Stavenger Oilers.
At 24 he still has lots to learn but I feel he can offer something different from what we have seen. He is a versatile player who can also play on the left wing.
It’s safe to say Panthers have a skilled physical back line this term with plenty of experience. They will not be pushed around easily. Fans will be hoping that less goals will be conceeded and that more Emphasis will be on goals scored.
“Let’s go Panthers”