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|16 января 2013 года.
Panthers Kovalev brings needed experience // South Florida Sun - Sentinel
-- Panthers rookie Jonathan Huberdeau's mother was pregnant with him when Alex Kovalev was 19 and playing in his first NHL game in 1992. But on Tuesday morning, they were linemates exchanging passes and tips until the rugged Russian found the back of the net.
While Huberdeau, the overall third draft pick in 2011, is also 19 and four days away from his NHL debut, Kovalev, 39, is competing for a contract to play on his fifth team in his 18th pro season. Together with linemate center Peter Mueller, who at 24 is attempting to return to his pre-concussion rookie form of 2007-08 when he scored 22 goals, they hope to add secondary scoring to the Panthers' 27th-ranked offense.
Huberdeau, who is 428 career goals away from Kovalev, had 150 points in 97 games in his past two seasons of junior hockey, so he didn't hesitate to ask the one-time 44-goal scorer for advice.
"He's unbelievable on the ice, unbelievable hands, so it's great to see him out there," said Huberdeau, who displayed a similar skill-set during his first practice of camp after sitting out a few days with some aches.
"I watched him play in Montreal [from 2003-09], and it was exciting every game he was there. To be on the ice with him is kind of a dream, to talk strategy off the ice, too, so we can get to know each other."
The Panthers are banking on this newly formed line to take some of the scoring burden and defensive pressure away from their top line of Kris Versteeg, Stephen Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann, who accounted for 70 of the Panthers' 197 goals.
"This is a guy I watched my whole life; I'm a huge fan," Weiss said. "[Kovalev's] one of the most skilled guys to ever have played this game, so to have him on our side is awesome.
"The best teams in the league have scoring throughout their lineup. You can't expect one or two guys to score the whole year, it's just not possible."
Kovalev, who played in Russia last season before a knee injury ended his season, is confident that he can help the Panthers with points and pointers.
"There's no time for advice, no time for anything, but just trying to find solutions to the power play and 5-on-5, to be as good as we can on the line," Kovalev said. "It doesn't matter if we play together or not, if I end up here or not, it's what matters in the next 3-4 days."
"You could see how talented they are and they want to be in this league. All I want to do is help them. ...I know I can match anyone in this locker room. I can still play this game."
Assistant GM Mike Santos said he hasn't spoken to the agent of unsigned defenseman Dmitry Kulikov in the, "last 48 hours," and he doesn't consider the parties close to an agreement.
"We'll keep working at it and would like to get him signed," he said.
Santos said that although still healing defenseman Erik Gudbranson (shoulder) and Marcel Goc (ankle) are suspended for sustaining their injuries while not working for the Panthers, they're permitted to use the team's services, as well as skate with the team as part of their rehabilitation process because of the shortened season. Santos said they'll be taken off the suspended list when, "they're fit to play in an NHL game."
Santos believes that forward Sean Bergenheim "might" have a more serious injury and once his playing status is determined, he will also be suspended because he got hurt playing for Finland during the lockout. ...
Fans can attend a free intra-squad scrimmageWednesday night, starting at 7 at Saveology.com Iceplex, 3299 Sportsplex Drive, Coral Springs. ...
All 48 Panthers games will be televised locally, with 42 on Fox Florida Sports.
Credit: By Harvey Fialkov, Staff writer