Keaton Ellerby

Florida GM Tallon on ’07 first-rounder Ellerby: “It’s time for him to grab the bull by the horns”

Keaton Ellerby is officially on notice.

The Florida Panthers defenseman — who’s failed to make good on the promise that saw him taken 10th overall at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft — was called out by GM Dale Tallon in a recent interview with The Hockey Writers (via the Florida Sun Sentinel).

“Now it’s time for him to grab the bull by the horns,” Tallon explained. “He has the ability, he’s a great skater, he’s got a good shot. I challenged him at the exit meeting that he needs to get prepared this off-season and get stronger mentally and physically.”

Ellerby took a step backwards last season after what appeared to be a breakthrough 2010-11 campaign (54GP, 2G-10A-12PTS, 16:06 average TOI). The 24-year-old only appeared in 40 regular season contests, recorded just five points (no goals) and saw his ice time dip to 15:23 per game.

To make matters worse, a lower-body injury limited him to just one appearance in the Panthers’ opening round playoff loss to the Devils.

Ellerby also catches a lot of heat because of his draft position and the defensemen taken shortly afterward — the Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh went 12th overall and St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk went 14th. Both are thriving on their respective clubs: McDonagh finished 11th in Norris voting last season, Shattenkirk 18th.

That said, brighter days could be ahead for Ellerby. He signed a one-year, $700,000 extension with the Panthers this summer and projects to be a top-six blueliner this season.

Kassian sent to hospital after being involved in car accident

Scott Darling, Zack Kassian

Montreal Canadiens winger Zack Kassian was involved in a car accident early Sunday morning.

According to the Montreal Gazette, Kassian was a passenger in the vehicle that crashed into a tree.

The SUV was being driven by a 20-year-old female at the time of the accident.

Montreal police confirmed that speed didn’t play a factor in the collision, but alcohol may have.

The Canadiens have since confirmed the incident took place and have also mentioned that Kassian was taken to hospital.

A club official described his injuries as being “minor”.

“(Kassian) was all bloodied up and stuff. He was in a daze,” said Steve Petrenko, a resident of the street on which the accident took place. “He had a hard time walking, and he almost took a fall.”

This story will be updated when more information is made available.

Habs and Fleischmann agree on one-year deal

Tomas Fleischmann,
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The Montreal Canadiens announced that they have signed Tomas Fleischmann to a one-year contract.

According to TVA Sports, the deal is worth $750,000.

The 31-year-old was invited to camp on a professional tryout, but his preseason performance showed that he could still contribute at the NHL level.

Fleischmann found instant chemistry with new linemates David Desharnais and Dale Weise, and it looks like the trio will open the regular season as Montreal’s third line.

The veteran winger started  last season with Florida, but was traded to Anaheim on Feb. 28. He had a hard time cracking the Duck’s lineup and was a healthy scratch in most of their playoff games last spring.

Fleischmann scored eight goals and 27 points in 66 games last season.