Connor Brickley showed last year that a strong showing in rookie camp could raise some eyebrows and help earn a spot on the Florida Panthers’ opening night roster.
Brickley carried over his excellent rookie tournament play into the big teams training camp and preseason and he started the season with the Panthers.
When Florida opens its rookie camp Friday morning at the IceDen in Coral Springs, Brickley knows he needs another good couple weeks if he hopes to get one of only a handful of openings on Florida’s 2016-17 roster.
The Panthers’ rookie camp will consist of a few practices and three games against rookies and prospects from Tampa Bay, Washington and Nashville. All games will be played at the IceDen and admission is free.
Florida officially opens training camp with physicals on Thursday, Sept. 22 with its first full-squad workout Sept. 23.
“The timing is right. I’m ready to play and was getting a little sick of practicing,’’ said Brickley, who played in 23 games with the Panthers before being sent back to the minors for what would be the remainder of the season in January.
“We have three games here and this is a chance to get ready for the main camp. I know how tough that’s going to be. Like last year, there are only a few spots and there are guys hungry to take them. I focus on myself and what I have to do to earn one of them. For me, it starts Saturday when we play our first rookie tournament game. I’m excited about it. Hopefully it works out.”
The Panthers don’t have many openings on this year’s roster so competition will be fierce.
Brickley isn’t the only player who hopes a strong showing this weekend leads to a big training camp and a little momentum heading into the season.
Young defensemen Mike Matheson and Ian McCoshen have been considered two of Florida’s top prospects the past couple of years with Matheson expected to make the Panthers’ top six this season.
Forward Kyle Rau also got a brief taste of the NHL last season and will be fighting for a spot on Florida’s bottom six.
The Florida team will be coached by new AHL coach Geordie Kinnear who takes over the Panthers’ new minor league team in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Because of a few injuries, Brickley was asked if he would suit up for the rookie tournament earlier this week.
The opportunity to get back on the ice and get his season started didn’t offer much of a decision.
“I’m down to help wherever I can and this helped me last year,’’ said Brickley, who scored a goal with four assists in his short stint with the Panthers last season.
“This is a great opportunity and it helped me last year. Lets follow in those footsteps again.’’
Florida Panthers rookie camp/tournament
▪ When, where: Friday through Tuesday; Florida Panthers IceDen, Coral Springs
▪ Schedule — Friday: Practice, 9:30 a.m.; Saturday: Washington vs. Tampa Bay, 2:30 p.m.; Nashville at Florida, 6; Sunday: Nashville vs. Tampa Bay, 2:30 p.m.; Washington at Florida, 6; Monday: Practice, 10 a.m.; Tuesday: Nashville vs. Washington, 10 a.m.; Tampa Bay at Florida, 1:30 p.m.
▪ Admission: Free