Panthers GM Dave Tallon discusses finalized roster

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Florida Panthers GM Dave Tallon talks about the finalizing the roster ahead of the season opener.

REPORTER: Final cuts were made today, I guess. The roster's set. How you like this roster moving forward?

- Well, I mean it's a roster that had the best record in the second half last year, and we added pieces to it that I think are going to make us better, i.e. Hoffman, i.e. Geselowitz. You know, I think a year under their belts, too, the young corps will have-- I know that's a motivating factor for them after what happened last year by having 96 points and not making the playoffs. I think we can see that there's an air about this team right now. They're not happy about what happened, and they want to make amends for that and have a good year. So I'm excited about it.

We have good depth. Tough decisions were made yesterday on some of the young guys that played very well in camp, so we know that we will not hesitate to bring any of those kids up at any time. If there's anybody up here that's not performing at the level they're supposed to be, we have guys that can replace them, and that's important that you have inter-competition for jobs. So we're real happy with our depth chart and we're looking forward to a good solid season.

REPORTER: Do you feel those young kids got a fair shot at this?

- Yeah, I think so. Yeah. They played a lot of games and played well. And, you know, we also have guys that played for us last year that played well last year in the stretch run that deserve a chance to be here and play as well. So if they don't play up to their capabilities, we won't hesitate to bring up any of those young guys. We feel the younger guys are now close and ready to play. And Borgstrom, on his behalf, he needs to be stronger, and it's better to err on the side of caution. And no one's ever said, oh, I wish we hadn't sent him down. Whereas you can keep him up here and do some damage to him physically, mentally, emotionally. So we want to make sure this is a marathon. We're really high on his abilities and his skill level and his compete level, just a matter of getting stronger and quicker to play at the pace that he has to play in the NHL.

REPORTER: I remember a couple of years ago you had to make a similar decision with Vincent Trocheck, and you sent down--

- Well, we did the same thing with Huberdeau, too, after he had a good camp and-- but, you know, he got crushed in a game in Dallas, and I said oh, this is not going to be a good thing if he gets hit like that 82 times, you know. I don't think he'll survive. So we have to make sure we protect our young guys, too, and as I said, we're in this for the long haul. We have a good young core who are going to be here for a long time. We got a good young team. He's a big part of our future, and we want to sure we protect him and make sure we do the right thing by him.

REPORTER: And this was Borgstrom's first NHL training camp. I don't think there's a lot of people out there who realize that.

- Yeah, well he, you know, he has a good self-evaluation. And he agreed with us that, you know, the games that he played-- and probably played more games in two weeks than he did, you know, any time last year in college, so he played all the preseason games and he admitted that he needed to get stronger as well. And I don't want to destroy his confidence. I want him to be a complete player and not have his offense be affected by having him play tough minutes against veteran players.

REPORTER: He's been playing on the wing a bit here in training camp. Do you kind of see him-- still envision him long-term at center, though?

- Well, you know, we have a lot of depth at center. So we've made adjustments for that already with Malgin and Bjugstad playing the wing. And today it's not as important, you know, it's F1, F2, F3, it's not like center, left wing, right wing, like it used to be. But he'll play where we think he's best. He's going to probably play center down in Springfield, and we'll see how that goes.

REPORTER: And then the surprise at camp, Jacob MacDonald makes his first NHL roster.

- Yeah, he was great. He had a great camp. I mean, you know, he surprised us. I knew that he could score as a defenseman. He's gone from the East Coast League to the American Hockey League, and he wants it. He had a really good camp, scored some big goals, and knows when to pinch in, and overall had a really good camp and earned a spot on our team. And, you know, with injuries we need depth, we need a lot of players to contribute, and that was a pleasant surprise for us.