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With ‘great ability to work with young players,’ Gallant takes over promising Panthers


Gerard Gallant was introduced as the new head coach of the Florida Panthers today.

We’d like to say it was a riveting press conference with all sorts of interesting quotes coming out of it; alas, it wasn’t. General manager Dale Tallon lauded Gallant for his honesty, integrity and fun-loving attitude. He said Gallant has a “great ability to work with young players,” and that the Panthers have “a lot of young players that need this kind of coach.”

Likewise, Gallant was excited at the opportunity to be a head coach in the NHL again, and he thinks that Florida, loaded with young prospects, has a bright future.

If you didn’t get to see it yourself, don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything shocking.

But today’s predictable press conference aside, the Panthers are indeed a team to watch this offseason, starting this week when nobody would be shocked if they traded their first overall pick, and then a few days later in free agency when their new owner’s wallet could be put to serious use.

And if Florida can add some useful veterans to its mix of blue-chip prospects (Jonathan Huberdeau, Nick Bjugstad, Aleksander Barkov, etc.), it could also be a team to watch next season. Remember that the Panthers have Roberto Luongo now, and that below-average goaltending was one of the big reasons they struggled so badly in 2013 and 2013-14.

Related: Huberdeau ‘excited’ to be reunited with junior coach Gallant

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.