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  • June 1, 2017 6:48 PM CDT

    SUNRISE, Fla. Nail Yakupov Oilers Jersey . -- When Roberto Luongo learned he wouldnt be starting the Heritage Classic, the disappointed goaltender asked agent Pat Brisson to call Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis just to get a read on his future. When Gillis gave Brisson permission to seek out a potential trade partner for the goalie and his massive contract, the attention turned quickly to the Panthers -- and not just because Luongo calls South Florida home. "It had to be a hockey move," Brisson said. "Roberto wants to play, wants to win. He wants to compete and win. ... When Roberto asked me, I said, I do believe that theres a light at the end of the tunnel for (the Panthers)," Brisson said. "I do believe theres a place where this team is going to go in the right direction." While the Canucks head in the direction of a rebuild, the Panthers look like a team on the upward climb thanks to new owner Vinny Viola and a cadre of young prospects GM Dale Tallon has assembled in the NHLs southernmost market. Through two games with his new team, Luongo has already caught a glimpse of what he and many hockey people believe is a bright future for the Panthers. Luongo sees potential stars in Jonathan Huberdeau, Nick Bjugstad and a handful more young players around the locker-room. At 34 years old, he wants to contribute to the revival of the franchise rather than riding coattails. "Its all about making a commitment to bringing some people in and trying to build a winner," Luongo said Sunday night after facing the Boston Bruins. "Thats what its all about for me. Im not here to fade into the sunset. I want to be part of something special coming here." Something special in the short term might just mean making the playoffs after missing in 11 of the past 12 seasons. Even as the Panthers head toward another early off-season, Bjugstad hopes its just "growing pains" as part of an important learning experience. Thats to be expected for a team whose top players include 18-year-old Aleksander Barkov, 20-year-old Huberdeau, and 22-year-old Erik Gudbranson. Players were on a bus in Boston when they found out Luongo was coming and represented something of a safety valve for mistakes of youth. "Any time you can have a solid goaltender behind you, it gives you confidence that you can make some plays," said 20-year-old forward Vincent Trocheck, who made his Panthers debut the same game Luongo returned. "If you do make a mistake, you know that hes back there to save your butt, basically." Yet in the larger scope, Luongo is not being asked to save a franchise by himself. It is, however, Tallons hope that trading for him "sets the tone" for the organization. The message of taking on the final eight-plus years and over US$28 million of Luongos contract was that the Panthers are willing to spend. Hours after making the move, Tallon said it was about making good on all the talk about wanting to win a Stanley Cup because "talk is cheap." Doing so could be expensive, but its not out of the realm of possibility that Florida has a better chance of winning a Cup in the next four or five years than Vancouver. "You never know," Luongo said. "Its tough to say. You hope so. Thats why Im here. I think the pieces are definitely here, just a matter of making sure that we bring the right piece to complement these young guys that are talented and theyre going to be stars in this league." Tallon has a plan. After already taking the goaltending gamble that was Jacob Markstrom out of the equation and getting Luongo, he has his sights set on signing, drafting or trading for two power wingers to support Barkov, Huberdeau, Bjugstad and Trocheck. The Panthers payroll is the lowest in the league at just over US$50 million, but with Viola in charge, Tallon expects to be "a cap team or close to a cap team" next season. Having almost $30 million of cap space could help the Panthers continue down the path to being a contender, but it also helps to have Luongo as a salesman and a symbol of the clubs all-out push to get better. "Its hard to recruit anybody if they dont think youre doing the right thing," Tallon said. "I think the commitment of making that deal and the commitment that Vinny Violas going to make ... will really influence a lot of decisions as far as players wanting to come here, seeing that were really committed to winning." Luongo didnt keep close tabs on the Panthers rebuild while he was playing for the Canucks because he didnt expect to get traded, let alone back to Florida. But Brisson, who just negotiated a two-year extension for winger Brad Boyes, had a good sense of what was happening. New ownership meant a new opportunity for Luongo. "If it was back to the former ownership where they werent sure what they wanted to spend, what they wanted to do, I wouldnt have recommended it at the time -- absolutely not," Brisson said. "If you look at good ownership and willingness to spend and the right chef, so to speak, the right cook in the kitchen, its an attractive place for Roberto and the players that are there." Tallon is that chef, and he has quite the recipe on his resume. Even though Stan Bowman was the general manager when the Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup, Tallon orchestrated much of the turnaround in Chicago. "It went well for them," Bjugstad said. "Thats kind of what were banking on." For every Blackhawks success story theres another example like the Edmonton Oilers, who are set to miss the playoffs for the eighth straight season despite three straight No. 1 picks and six in the top 10. They provide a cautionary tale for the Panthers, even as Tallon rattles off prospect after prospect who could make a difference. Each one of those young, unproven players represents essentially a raffle ticket for Florida, another chance to hit it big. But theres plenty of risk and uncertainty in that. "Obviously weve got to prove ourselves before we can get too excited," Bjugstad said. "Theres a ways to go." In Luongo, the young Panthers get a goalie who is already established. Even if his play is not Vezina Trophy-calibre, he could instill plenty of confidence on and off the ice. "I think maybe as more of an experienced guy in the locker-room to bring whatever I have learned over the years and maybe help them out along the way as far as just being a pro and all that kind of stuff to help their development," Luongo said. That team-wide development and progression toward a playoff team is still in the "early" stages, according to Tallon. Luongos addition speeds it up, but theres still no set goal on when he figures the Panthers will get over the hump. "I dont put numbers on that," he said. "I just let the players start to develop and see when theyre ready to make a real hit on the team as far as moving forward. And when they all come together as a group, as a team, not just in a group of individuals, thats when you pretty well know when youve got something special." Bill Ranford Jersey . MLB executive Joe Torre ruled on Tuesday nights game at Wrigley Field that was called after 4 1-2 innings. The Cubs were declared the winners by a 2-0 score. Now, it is instead a suspended game that will resume at 4:05 p. Zack Kassian Oilers Jersey . -- The Sacramento Kings have signed first-round pick Nik Stauskas to his rookie contract.WALLINGFORD, Conn. -- Its been a season of hockey firsts for Canadian forward Jamie Lee Rattray. The 21-year-old from Kanata, Ont., became the first Clarkson University player to win the Patty Kazmaier Award that goes to the best player in NCAA Division 1 womens hockey. Rattray helped lead the Golden Knights to their first Frozen Four appearance. Theyll face the University of Minnesota on Sunday in the championship game. "Its been unbelievable," Rattray told The Canadian Press after receiving the award Saturday. "Especially as a senior, theres nothing more I could ask for than to cap off my senior year playing in the last game of the season. "Its my last college game. The first game ever I played in my career was against Minnesota and now the last one. Its going to be exciting (Sunday) and a lot of emotions, but youve got to go out there and play your game." Rattray ranked second in NCAA scoring this season with 62 points -- 28 goals and 34 assists in 39 games -- to help Clarkson set a single-season record for wins with 30. Shes the fifth Canadian to win the Patty Kazmaier Award in its 17-year history. Cornell forward Jillian Saulnier from Halifax and American forward Hannah Brandt of the University of Minnesota were the other two finalists for the award. Brandt led Division 1 scoring with 22 ggoals and 41 assists for 63 points in 39 games. Wayne Gretzky Oilers Jersey. Saulnier, 22, ranked fourth with 28 goals and 28 assists in 34 games. Previous Canadian winners of the award were Mercyhursts Vicki Bendus of Wasaga Beach, Ont., (2010); Harvards Sarah Vaillancourt of Sherbrooke, Que., (2008); Wisconsins Sara Bauer of St. Catharines, Ont., (2006); and Harvards Jennifer Botterill of Winnipeg (2001, 2003). The award was established in 1998 in memory of Kazmaier, a Princeton defenceman who died of a blood disease at the age of 28. "Its definitely a great honour and especially with those nominees," Rattray said. "It was kind of neat to be part of that group and it was neat to see at the banquet today what Patty was all about. "I was pretty nervous at first, but then excitement kind of came over me. Definitely an honourable group to be part of." Rattray, five foot six and 172 pounds, will graduate with a degree in business from Clarkson, which is located in Potsdam, N.Y. She had two assists in Clarksons 5-1 win over Mercyhurst in Fridays Frozen Four semifinal. Rattray is a prospect for the Canadian womens hockey team. She won silver and gold with Canada at the world under-18 womens hockey championship in 2009 and 2010 respectively. She then spent three years playing for Canadas under-22 team. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys ' ' '