Panthers Sign Matt Francis from ECHL

Panthers latest signing is forward Matt Francis from Gwinnett Gladiators in the ECHL [Panthers website release]. Francis is described as a two-way centre who can also play on either wing. He also received an AHL call up at the end of the season at Worcester Sharks for two games [Elite Prospects stats]
Injury hampered him last season at Gwinnett and he now finds himself at the Panthers which draws parallels to the signing of Billy Ryan last season.

Francis has said of his move to Nottingham “I’ve heard only good things about Nottingham as a city and Nottingham as a club. I’m looking forward to meeting the fans and showing them what I can do”
Coach Corey Neilson said of his latest signing “He’s another guy who will come to play for us and pick up his studies thanks to our link with the University of Derby, the guys that have done that in the last year or two have all proven to be real winners for us and I can see Matt doing the same.
Matt’s a two-way centre who prides himself on the defensive side of his game, he has explosive speed over the first few strides and that first step speed is going to be an asset to our team. He can also play on the wings and he prides himself on his penalty killing abilities, having said that he’s ambitious and he’s hoping for a shout on the Panthers’ power-play too. Injection speed is his big thing”

To me it sounds like Francis will be replacing Rob Bellamy, but his defensive abilities will also be an asset. Obviously without having seen him play I can’t comment too much but it looks to me like Neilson could have picked up a real gem here. Looking forward to seeing him take to the ice in September.

* The Panthers website report also mentioned sticking to its policy of only releasing news of signings once the details are finalise and refuse to comment on “Rumour & Speculation”. A side swipe at David Simms earlier Twitter revelations that Panthers have signed Brandon Benedict from the Belfast Giants perhaps?

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