Not long after the Florida Panthers lost in the Stanley Cup Final, the team announced it had signed goalie Ludovic Waeber after he played 19 games in the Swiss National League.
It was, obviously, an announcement which flew under the radar.
After all, the 26-year-old netminder went undrafted and has spent the entirety of his professional career playing in his native Switzerland.
But the 6-foot-1 Waeber turned some heads at the team’s development camp a month after signing, looking strong in net against players a number of years younger that himself.
Waeber was definitely the cagey veteran in development camp.
But like many of the youngsters arriving in a pro camp for the first time, Waeber was trying to take it all in.
“I am just taking a look at how things are here,” he said after a practice in Coral Springs last month. “I have played pro in Europe, but I am here to see the differences and show myself a little bit. This is a big deal for me. I am from a small town in Switzerland and this is a good opportunity for me. I am looking forward to it.”
The next step for Waeber will be participating in his first full-scale training camp where there will be a lot of competition for playing time.
Florida has three NHL goalies signed in Sergei Bobrovsky, Spencer Knight and Anthony Stolarz with Mack Guzda being their top prospect in net entering his second full season with the organization.
That said, there could be a place for Waeber to continue to learn by playing either in Charlotte or Estero with the ECHL Florida Everblades this coming season.
The Panthers liked what they saw from Waeber in his time in the National League the past few seasons especially this last one with the ZSC Lions in which he played 19 games, recorded two shutouts and had a .914 save percentage with a 2.50 goals-against average.
Getting accustomed to the North American style of game with the smaller ice and aggressive play around the net is something Waeber also will have to get used to, one big reason why he came to South Florida this summer to get some early work in at development camp.
“There are a lot of challenges, just changing countries,” Waeber said. “Back home, you have a little bit of a cocoon what with having family around and stuff. I am not that old, but I am not that young so this is a big change. My wife is coming with me. It’s going to be a good year.”
Waeber said the Panthers’ goalie department contacted him about joining the team, a big deal coming from a guy who had a Roberto Luongo — Vancouver Canucks era — poster on his wall growing up.
Being able to meet Luongo and work on the ice with Leo Luongo and Robb Tallas during development camp was something that Waeber said was helpful.
“When I had that first Zoom call with Leo, Francois Allare and Roberto … it was a big deal,” he said. “I used to go to Allare’s goalie camp in Switzerland so I know about the man and his philosophy of goaltending. Just taking a look at how things are done here, playing on the smaller rink changes things a little bit. I have gotten along pretty good I think.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
- Now: Free agency period is open
- Saturday: Unofficial Florida Panthers Fan Appreciation Party at the Innfield, Sunrise
- Mid-September: Training Camp, South Florida
- Sept. 25: Preseason starts; Doubleheader v. Nashville @ Sunrise
- Oct. 7: Preseason ends; v. Tampa Bay Lightning @ Sunrise
- Oct. 12: Start of 2023-24 Regular Season at Minnesota Wild
- Oct. 19: 2023-24 Home Opener vs. Toronto Maple Leafs