Panthers invite Makarov
By Daniel Nugent-Bowman, The StarPhoenix
June 26, 2012
Andrey Makarov's travel plans have changed.
After not getting selected in the NHL draft Saturday, the Saskatoon Blades goalie planned on heading to London, Ont. - where he's been training since the end of the WHL season - grabbing some belongings, and then going home to Kazan, Russia for the summer.
Now, he's off to the Sunshine State.
Makarov's agent, Jay Grossman, said via email that the Florida Panthers have invited the Blades netminder to their development camp beginning July 1 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
"I guess I'm not going to Russia," Makarov said with a laugh during a phone interview from London.
While the Panthers weren't willing to confirm the news Monday, Makarov said he was told by Grossman and Blades head coach and general manager Lorne Molleken after an on-ice workout in London.
"I'm pretty excited about that," the 19-year-old said. "I'm just working out and practising every day - just stay positive."
The 6foot1, 178-pound netminder starred for Russia at the 2012 World Junior Championship, coming into the semifinal game against Canada with 5: 43 remaining to preserve a 6-5 win. He then made 57 saves in the gold medal contest as Russia fell 1-0 in overtime to Sweden.
He was named the Blades' team MVP last season after going 29-21-1-1 with a 3.01 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and two shutouts.
Makarov was rated as the seventh-best goaltender available in the draft in the NHL Central Scouting's final rankings, released April 9. He was also one of 110 players invited to the draft combine in May.
He attended the opening round of the draft in Pittsburgh Friday and then waited patiently Saturday during rounds two through seven as 211 players were picked.
However of the 24 goaltenders selected, Makarov wasn't among them.
"It's way better," he said, comparing Saturday's experience to the camp news.
"It's a really nice surprise for me. I really appreciate Florida inviting me to their camp. I'm so excited and will try my best in what I'm doing."
Because Makarov has not signed a contract with the Panthers, his performance at the development session could impact further invitations to the team's rookie and main camps.
Despite not being drafted, Grossman said Makarov would be able to sign a contract with the Panthers. Failing any contract offer, Makarov is still eligible for the 2013 NHL draft.
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