Nottingham Panthers: The Forwards

This season Panthers have a wealth of import forwards coming in, adding to the GB internationals Brett Perlini, Robert Farmer, Robert Lachowicz and Ollie Betteridge and Panthers Talisman Luke Pither, the only remaining import forward from last season’s mainly disappointing campaign. Rich Chernomaz has decided on his own chargers for the months ahead, forwards that he believes have the size, skill and skating ability to cut it in this ever growing league, the majority coming from the American minor leagues.

Here we look at the new imports.

#27 Alex Guptill

What do we know about him?

Guptill is 26 and from Burlington, Ontario Canada. He can play on either flank and began his hockey career with the Brampton Capitals in the Ontario Junior Hockey League back in the 2008/09 season.

He was a round 10, 3# 77 overall pick for the Dallas Stars. He never played in the NHL for Dallas, however, he did play 5 games for their affiliates the Texas Stars in the AHL back in 2013/14.

The majority of his career has been in the ECHL with 7 different teams including the Manchester Monarchs, Indy Fuel and the Allen Americans. With the latter he would have his best season in the ECHL, where last season he scored 20 times in 48 games, adding 23 assists gaining 43 points. He comes to Panthers in form.

What can he bring?

Well, he has brought his consistency with him from the ECHL, this being evident in Pre-season. I won’t hide the fact that I’m a big fan of Guptill, people who know me, know this. Guptill for me is an all round hockey player. He is 6 ft 3, however his size doesn’t slow him down. He is quick, skillful and has good skating ability. He chipped in with goals and assists in pre season and we hope this will continue throughout the campaign.

#21 Mark Hurtubise

What do we know about him?

Fans who have been following the EIHL will remember the 34 year old Canadian from his time at the now departed Edinburgh Capitals where he was their top point scorer with 89 back in the 2008/09 season. He then departed Britain for an 11 year period playing his trade in the top leagues of Germany, Denmark and Sweden before returning for the season ahead.

What can he bring?

A wealth of experience, not just in Canada and Europe but this league itself. Yes he is towards the end of his career but he proved in pre season that he can still cut it in this league getting himself on the score sheet. He also added to his domestic tally in the 5-2 demolition of the Sheffield Steelers with a rocket shot. Brought in to be a top line forward his experience will be invaluable. Another important part is that he knows this league and what it entails. He is also a right handed centre skater something that Chernomaz doesn’t have in the rest of the Roster.

Mark Hurtubise celebrates with Dylan Olsen. Credit: Panthers Images.

# 15 Justin Kovacs

What do we know about him?

Another winger that can play on both the right and left side, Kovacs is a 26 year old Michigan native who has spent the majority of his playing career in the ECHL with the Kalamazoo Wings and the Quad City Mallards.

Kovacs began his hockey career in The Elite Major Bantam league with Compuware Bantam Major AAA. He moves to Panthers after his first stint in Europe being with HK Nitra of Slovakia.

What can he bring?

In essence Kovacs is a skilled skater who is a known playmaker, who can also chip in with a goal along the way. I can see him being one of the key players in creating goals for the likes of Luke Pither and Brett Perlini. He will fit in well with the style of play Chernomaz wishes to see at the Motorpoint.

32# Jacob Doty

What do we know about him?

Like Hertubise, Doty is well known to the league after spending last season with the Glasgow Clan where he played 56 games, scoring 16 with 19 assists gaining a total of 35 points.

Previously to that he had been with the Missouri Mavericks in the ECHL. He began his career with the

Yellowstone Quake in the Northern Pacific Hockey League . During his career he has also played in 71 games in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves, the affiliates of NHL team the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

What can he bring?

First and foremost he can bring strength, this was apparent in Pre-season where he would often make decent checks in both the defensive end and up front. He has also shown that he will stick up for team mates, this was evident when Davey Phillips checked Ollie Betteridge to the head during the Challenge Cup game. There have been other occasions when he has been ready to drop the gloves but was stopped by the Referees.

Bought in by Chernomaz as an enforcer, however he can also score goals and create for his team, we saw this during pre-season. I’m sure we will see Doty swinging a few punches over the coming months and he will become a fans favourite. Glasgow fans were sad to see him go when it was announced he was leaving so I think that tells you alot about the type of player he is.

Jacob Doty in action at Glasgow. Credit: Glasgow Clan media.

#12 Tyler Biggs

What do we know about him?

Born in Binghamton, New York, Biggs is a 25 year old forward who can play either down the center or on the right wing.

He began his career with the Toronto Junior leagues and has gone on to play in the ECHL and AHL with the Torono Marlies, the affiliates of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Biggs was also a 2011 round 1 #22 overall draft pick for the Leafs.

He went on to play 108 times for Toronto in the AHL and also 11 times in the same league with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Biggs has a wealth of experience on the international stage where he has won 3 gold medals at junior level with the USA team.

What can he bring?

With the pedigree he has Biggs could turn out to be one of the best signings made by Chernomaz, not only does he have experience in one of America’s top leagues, he also has the experience of international competitions.

At only 25 he hasn’t hit the peak of his career yet and has a lot to offer the Panthers, again, like the other imports, he has shown consistency in the games he has played and in my opinion he is an astute addition. He is one of the players that fellow Chasing The Puck writers are looking out for.

26# Jon Rheault

What do we know about him?

Rheault comes to Panthers after spending a season in the Erste Bank Eishockey of Austria with Klagenfurther AC. Prior to this he spent a season in Switzerland and before that he spent 3 seasons at Adler Mannheim in the German DEL so was known to Chernomaz.

Rheault was prolific in his younger days and this lead to him being a 2006 round 5 #145 overall draft pick for the Philidelphia Flyers. Unfortunately he didn’t make the cut with the Flyers, however he managed 5 appearances for the Florida Panthers in 2012/13 season. Rheault has spent most of his career in the AHL apart from his time in Europe.

What can he bring?

In my opinion Rheault will be a key player for Panthers not only does he bring bags of experience he will also add assists and goals to the team. One of his key qualities is the speed he possesses, something that Panthers lost when Evan Mosey left for pastures new. Rheault will most probably fill one of the top lines and again will be a key man in the 2018/19 season.

#86 Kevin Henderson

What do we know about him?

Henderson is a 31 year old Toronto, Canada native who can play on the left wing or down the centre of the ice. Another player with a vast amount of experience. Henderson has spent the majority of his time in hockey playing in the AHL but did manage 4 games for the Nashville Predators in the 2012/13 season. He has a trophy to his name also, when he was a Calder Cup winner with the Milwaukee Admirals in a season where he scored 17 goals and 12 assists.

Kevin Henderson. Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars

What can he bring?

He has proven in pre season that he’s a team player helping out defensively when required by Chernomaz. He doesn’t do anything fancy but does the nitty gritty bits that often go unseen.

He is thought after player to the coach who has named him an alternative captain alongside Steve Lee and Luke Pither. Adding to this his experience will be vital for the team and the younger players.

Overall Panthers have an array of attacking players that could help them achieve the goal of capturing some trophies this season. It’s difficult to say which player will be a stand out in the forward lines because there are that many top forwards. Chernomaz has said that he wants teams to be worried about coming to Nottingham and I truly think they should be, this team could be unstoppable.

“Let’s go Panthers”


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