Report: BC standout Matheson to sign with Panthers, forgo senior year

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Boston College captain and first-round draft pick Michael Matheson is reportedly passing on his senior season to sign with the Florida Panthers, per SB Nation.

Matheson, 21, was the 23rd overall selection at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and has spent the last three years at BC, emerging as one of the most talented d-men in the country. He finished tied for third on the team in scoring this year, with 25 points, and led the Eagles in assists, with 22.

Should he officially announce his departure from BC, he’ll leave behind a pretty impressive collegiate career. Matheson was named to the Hockey East rookie team in his freshman campaign and was an AHCA All-American last season.

The Panthers have to be excited about him coming aboard. Last summer, the club got a glimpse of what its future blueline would look like as Matheson and Aaron Ekblad played together in the club’s prospect development camp.

Jagr, Panthers keep pace in wild card race

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Jaromir Jagr scored twice, including the game winner, as the Florida Panthers doubled up the Ottawa Senators 4-2.

Jagr’s second of the night, and 15th of the season, moves him two points back of former teammate Ron Francis for fourth on the NHL’s all-time points list.

With the win, Florida moved four points back of the Boston Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers trail the Senators by just one point.

Ottawa now trails Boston by three points.

“Everybody knows how important it was to win this game. It was Game 7 for us,” said Jagr. “We just have to get ready for the next Game 7 against Boston.”

Jagr’s agent met with Panthers’ GM Dale Talon on Saturday. The two sides appear interested in getting a deal done, but right now the focus is on the playoff race.

“Nobody really gives those kids any credit,” said Jagr of the young team in Florida. “How young they are, they’re so talented. They’re going to surprise the league in two years. They might win the cup the way and they’re going to get better and better. They don’t even have to do anything and they’re going to get better.”

Jussi Jokinen and Dave Bolland had the other Panthers goals while Dan Ellis made 25 saves for the win.

Florida has points in three straight games and five of their last six.

Senators captain Erik Karlsson scored his 20th of the season and Jean-Gabriel Pageau had the other for Ottawa. The Sens have lost three straight for the first time since Feb. 3-7.

Craig Anderson made his second straight start and made 33 saves in the loss.

Goalie Nods: Wings will start Mrazek for second straight day

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Detroit sticks with Petr Mrazek

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard’s recent slump has been bad enough spark speculation about him potentially losing the starting job to 23-year-old netminder Mrazek. That debate only intensified after Mrazek posted a 23-save shutout against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

Under these circumstances, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has decided to start Mrazek against the New York Islanders despite the lack of rest. The only other time Detroit attempted to start Mrazek on back-to-back days this season, he allowed three goals on seven shots to the Buffalo Sabres before being pulled just 13:37 minutes into the second game.

There’s no word yet on who the Islanders will counter with.

Elsewhere…

Capitals at Rangers: Braden Holtby vs. Cam Talbot

Panthers at Senators: Craig Anderson will start for Ottawa; Roberto Luongo is the probable goaltender for Florida.

Bruins at Hurricanes: Tuukka Rask is expected to be fine for today’s game after dealing with dehydration issues on Saturday, so there’s a fair chance he’ll be between the pipes for Boston. Carolina will likely go with Anton Khudobin after using Cam Ward on Saturday, but that hasn’t been confirmed.

Flames at Predators: Jonas Hiller is confirmed for Calgary while there’s a fair chance Nashville will counter with Pekka Rinne.

Ducks at Devils: It’s not know who Anaheim will start, but Cory Schneider will be in goal for New Jersey.

Sharks at Penguins: Alex Stalock vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Blackhawks at Jets: Corey Crawford vs. Ondrej Pavelec

Panthers sign Bjugstad’s former roommate, Minnesota Gophers captain Kyle Rau

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The Florida Panthers announced that Kyle Rau has agreed to an entry-level contract. The 22-year-old forward has completed his four-year stint with the University of Minnesota.

Rau was taken by the Panthers with the 91st overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Since then he’s gone on to have a very successful run with the Minnesota Gophers.

He has recorded at least 40 points in each of his NCAA campaigns, including 20 goals and 21 assists in 39 games this season. The Gophers captain is the first Minnesota player to accumulate at least 150 career points since Troy Riddle did it in 2004.

“We are very pleased to have agreed to an entry level contract with Kyle,” said Panthers GM Dale Tallon. “He played extremely well at the University of Minnesota, leading the Gophers to back-to-back Big Ten regular-season championships and four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. He is another one of our young and talented prospects who is prepared to take the next step in his hockey career.”

He also has strong ties with another promising Panthers forward in Nick Bjugstad. The two played together with Minnesota and were roommates before Bjugstad began his pro career, per the Miami Herald’s George Richards.

Jagr, Panthers focused on playoffs fight, not contract talks

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The Florida Panthers appear to be very interested in re-signing recent trade acquisition Jaromir Jagr, so it wasn’t surprising to hear that Jagr’s agent, Peter Svoboda, was scheduled to meet with Panthers GM Dale Talon. However, while Florida did relay its interest in a contract extension directly to Svoboda, there won’t be a signing in the near future.

After all, the Panthers are still trying to claw their way into the playoffs.

“This is too important a time; we’ll get to it when time is right,” Tallon told the Miami Herald.

“We’ll talk after the season. … He has interest [in staying] but is a free agent on July 1. He’ll make up his mind when he makes up his mind. From what I’ve seen and what has gone on, it would be tremendous to have him back here.”

Jagr has two goals and 10 points in 13 games with the Florida Panthers and has tried to be a mentor for his linemates, 21-year-old Jonathan Huberdeau and 19-year-old Aleksander Barkov.

Florida is four points behind the Boston Bruins in the battle for the second Wild Card seed with seven games remaining in each team’s schedule.