Florida Panthers forward Anthony Greco has no problem with proving himself.
With just over a week until the Panthers kick off their 2019-20 season against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Greco is one of several players still hoping to earn one of the team’s final roster spots, but he said he doesn’t mind the adversity.
“I think that’s the mindset I have always had,” he said after Monday’s practice. “I have to prove myself every day. I have no problem with that. It’s something I kind of just thrive in now.”
So far, he’s made the most of his chance. The 25-year-old is tied for fourth in scoring with four points (three goals, one assist) in three games this preseason.
And his two-goal performance in last week’s 6-0 win against the Dallas Stars grabbed the attention of coach Joel Quenneville, who said he’s earned a much closer look ahead of the team’s upcoming preseason matchup against the Tampa Bay Lighting at the BB&T Center.
“Grecs is a guy that we’re kind of talking about,” Quenneville said, “that all of a sudden he comes up with a big game. I think he’s improving without the puck. His speed really catches your eye. And all of a sudden he’s got some breakaway here, and he’s got some finish around the net. His speed can turn the pucks over as well … Last game, it was one of those where, OK, we’ll keep an eye on him and give him a better opportunity.”
Greco, who’s entering his fourth season with the Panthers, led the AHL Springfield Thunderbirds in scoring last season with a career-high 59 points (30 goals, 29 assists).
The Ohio State product is also used to battling proving himself after entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2015.
“It’s sort of how it’s been the last however many years,” he said. “I’m used to it now, at this point, trying to come in and prove myself. And I have no problem with it.”
Quenneville has noticed Greco’s effort in camp. He’s one of a few players on the bubble who’s performance recently has made those roster decisions tougher.
And after surviving this past weekend’s most recent round of roster cuts, which put the Panthers’ roster at 29, Greco still has time to solidify his spot, as Quenneville said he’s one of the guys who will get more playing time in the remaining three preseason games.
“It’s been a long camp, and the days have been pretty hard,” Greco said after the Panthers’ Monday practice. “But for myself, just taking it day by day ... just trying to come in and be confident every single day and just take it one practice at a time and one period at a time in the games. And just try my best.”
The Panthers’ final three preseason games are against the Lightning, who won the Presidents Trophy last season after going 62-16-4 with 128 points. Florida then opens its regular-season against Tampa Bay at Amalie Arena, after which, the team will return to the BB&T Center to face the Lightning in its 2019 home opener.
“Tampa’s as good a team as you’re going to see as far as watching all their systems, how they play, the skill, the pace, the speed,” Quenneville said. “You’re going to see a lot of different things that’ll help us learn about our team and how to play.
“It’ll be good competition.”