Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers’ pending free agents struggling to score

Sean Bergenheim is the only pending Panthers free agent not in a slump.
Sean Bergenheim is the only pending Panthers free agent not in a slump. Getty Images

The Panthers were counting on substantial production from four players who likely would benefit financially from putting up big stats.

Through the first six games, only one of Florida’s pending free agents has done so.

Sean Bergenheim is tied for the team lead with two goals. Scottie Upshall has just one assist, and Tomas Kopecky and Tomas Fleischmann have yet to register a point.

All four signed four-year deals with the Panthers in 2011 that expire after this season.

“There is no concern from me because I think they are playing well,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said. “To me, it doesn’t matter who scores the goals but what’s important is who competes and plays hard every night. These guys are working hard. I know they want to score goals but when you win, that takes care of everything else.’’

Kopecky is coming off an injury-shortened season after sustaining a concussion during the Olympics in February.

Although Kopecky hasn’t found the scoresheet yet this season, he came into camp in excellent shape and has played well on Florida’s revamped fourth line.

In the lockout-shortened season in 2013, Kopecky put up some of the best numbers of his career, scoring 15 goals with 12 assists in just 47 games.

Last year, he had four goals with eight assists in 49.

“The years have flown and it’s been great here,’’ Kopecky said.

“The organization has done so much for me and we’ll see what happens. I would obviously love to stay here but right now, I’m not focused on being in the last year of my contract. I’m just going game by game. It’s obviously frustrating when you’re not scoring, but you just keep working. I just have to play my game.’’

Fleischmann also hasn’t scored as this year seems to mirror his frustrating season in 2013-14 when he had plenty of opportunity but struggled to find the back of the net.

This year, Fleischmann is credited with 13 shots on goal. Fleischmann, whose eight goals last year were his lowest in a full season, said he’s not worrying about his pending free agency because things have worked out for him in the past.

“I just worry about the next game,’’ Fleischmann said. “I feel great on the ice right now, I’m getting the chances. They just aren’t going in. I don’t know what’s going on. But we’ll see what happens in time. This is just the start of the season. I think things are going to get rolling soon. It has to come. I’ve done a lot of work over the summer. You worry when you don’t get the chances. Those, I’ve been getting.’’


The latest issue of the Hockey News is centered on the Panthers, and the team has the guest editor to thank for that.

Goalie Roberto Luongo took over the famed hockey periodical in which he was on the cover, interviewed Canadiens goalie prospect Zach Fucale and added his own personal notes to different stories throughout the issue.

Adam Proteau wrote the centerpiece story on the Panthers’ new management and players.

“They came to me with the idea and I thought it was pretty neat, something that hadn’t been done before,’’ Luongo said.

“I was really excited about it and I jumped on the opportunity. We did a few conference calls and they flew down during training camp and we banged it out. It’s been getting good reviews. And anytime you get a chance to advertise the team, it’s a good idea.’’

▪ Center Dave Bolland, who sustained a lower-body injury last week in Buffalo, didn’t practice with the team again Friday and won’t play Saturday against the Coyotes.

With the Panthers winning two of their past three games, there’s no rush to mess with the lineup.

“He’s a big part of our club, but it’s early in the season and you want to make sure everyone is 100 percent,’’ Gallant said. “We haven’t played many games, so there’s no sense to rush him back for one game.’’

Saturday: Panthers at Coyotes

When/where: 9 p.m.; Gila River Arena, Glendale, Arizona.

TV/radio: FSNF; WQAM 560.

The series: Arizona leads 14-9-3.

Noteworthy: The Panthers have lost the past three games to the Coyotes and haven't won in Glendale since 2010. ... Arizona defenseman Connor Murphy is the son of original Panthers defenseman and former assistant coach Gord Murphy.

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