Panthers sign Gilroy, Matsumoto and Rampage ink four

The Florida Panthers have announced one-year, two-way deals with defenceman Matt Gilroy and forward Jon Matsumoto, and their farm team announced that they’ve signed four players to AHL deals.

After the Panthers announced the pair of deals, news came that the San Antonio Rampage had come to terms with Jared Gomes, Jed Ortmeyer, Zach Miskovic, and Trevor Lewis.

Matsumoto, a 2006 third-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, spent last season between the AHL’s Worcester Sharks and Chicago Wolves. With the Sharks, where Matsumoto played 60 games, the shifty center put up 32 points (14-18) in 60 games, before tallying just one goal in five games while on loan with the Wolves. Through his career, Matsumoto has primarily been an AHLer, spending 498 games in the minors, totalling 342 points over that time. While he has 149 goals and 193 assists at the minor league level — a rate of nearly .70 points per game — Matsumoto hasn’t been able to translate that success to the NHL.

In 14 NHL contests, the Ottawa, Ont., product has only been able to put up two goals. His last NHL action came in 2011-12, when he suited up for a single game with the Panthers.

Gilroy, who was a highly sought after free agent after winning the Hobey Baker Award in 2009-09, hasn’t quite lived up to his billing as a top NHL prospect. Last season, while with the New York Rangers organization, Gilroy appeared in only 15 games with the Blueshirts. While not in the Rangers lineup, Gilroy was playing in the ‘A’ with the Connecticut Whale.

In 34 games with the Whale — now back to their original namesake as the Hartford Wolf Pack — Gilroy had six goals and nine assists.

On a Panthers team that isn’t incredibly deep at the D position, Gilroy stands a chance of having an extended stay with the Cats, but there’s a possibility he could suit up with the Rampage for more than a handful of games as well. If his two-way deal is any indication, the Panthers don’t have expectations of Gilroy being a full-time NHL player next season.

Aside from these two two-way NHL deals, the Rampage brought back three players — Gomes, Ortmeyer, Miskovic — from last season on AHL deals for 2013-14, as well as Lewis, who is not to be confused with the Stanley Cup Champion of the same name.

Gomes, who came to the Rampage last season as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Prince Edward Island, had a respectable first professional season. In 73 games with San Antonio, the Brampton, Ont., native had 16 goals and 17 assists. At 6’1″ and 174 lbs., Gomes could probably do with bulking up a bit, but the 24-year-old proved to management that he belongs there and they’ve brought him back to see if he can do it all again.

In Ortmeyer, the Rampage are bringing back a player that used to be an NHL regular at the beginning of his career. With stints with the Rangers, Predators, Sharks, and Wild, Ortmeyer is a veteran of nearly 350 regular season NHL contests with 22 goals and 31 assists over that time. While he had trouble finding the scoring sheet with any consistency in the NHL, at the AHL level the 34-year-old Omaha native has had a point almost every other game with in the ‘A’. The signing brings the Rampage back their alternate captain from last season, and a veteran presence to one of the most prospect heavy teams in the NHL.

Miskovic, a 28-year-old from River Forest, Ill., has spent the four seasons in the AHL after coming to the league as an undrafted free agent out of St. Lawrence University of the NCAA. Initially signed on to play with the Hershey Bears, Miskovic has put together quite the career for an AHL defenceman. A skilled puck mover, the 6’1″, 185 lbs. Miskovic has 19 goals and 42 assists in his 194 career games, and won the Calder Cup in 2009-10 as a part of the Bears powerhouse. While only playing in six contests during that run, Miskovic contributed to the tune of one goal and one assist in six games.

Lewis, who doesn’t quite have the credentials of the other three, has played in only six AHL games in his career. Over those games, Lewis contributed one goal.

After a season spent with the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones, Lewis is making the jump the next level. In 24 games with the Cyclones, Lewis has five goals and 13 assists.


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