Category Archives: Fla. Panthers
As we enter into the preliminary stages of NHL training camp, the regular season is becoming visible on the horizon. The final roster preparations are being made, and to be fair, trades could still go down.
This year, however, only the Blackhawks and Red Wings sit over the cap ahead of the season at $85,000 and $3,000,000 over respectively. Chicago’s roster can be sorted with one or two minor moves, as the situation is not as dire as it has been in years past. For Detroit, the situation is even clearer, as Johan Franzen and his $3,954,545 contract can be placed on long-term injured reserve for relief.
So, as the dust (presumably) settles, it’s time to look back: which team had the worst offseason in 2017?
For starters, the Penguins did not have a great summer, but they have not won two straight Stanley Cups for no reason. Trading down over twenty spots to acquire Ryan Reaves is pretty rough. Losing Nick Bonino did not help either. But, these are the consequences to being a dominant team in the salary cap era.
Their search for a third line center will continue into the first few months of the season, so if they can sort that out, the offseason will look much better. Regardless though, I don’t think Mike Sullivan, Sidney Crosby, or any Penguins fans will be losing any sleep moving forward.
The Capitals, however, were in a different situation. General manager Brian MacLellan went all-in last season, most notably acquiring Kevin Shattenkirk at the trade deadline.
Washington, as we know, still lost in the second round to Pittsburgh. The best-assembled team in the Alex Ovechkin era still could not get the job done, and the repercussions were costly.
The Capitals were forced to part ways with, either by free agency or trade, Kevin Shattenkirk, Justin Williams, Marcus Johansson, and Karl Alzner. They also lost Nate Schmidt to Vegas.
Barry Trotz will have to look to young players such as Jakub Vrana and Christian Djoos to fill in the holes left behind. The Capitals will certainly be a worse team next season, however it is not right to assume that they will no longer be a threat.
Moving on to a different area of ineptitude: the Colorado Avalanche. Joe Sakic failed to move out Matt Duchene this summer, and the burden of his situation is clearly weighing on the team.
The situation is at a boiling point between Duchene and the Avalanche. A change of scenery would benefit both parties, but Sakic’s price has just been too high for teams to match. In reality, he has decreased Duchene’s value by overpricing him. It’s funny how that works.
Besides that fiasco, the Avalanche did not make any huge moves this offseason. Protecting Semyon Varlamov instead of Calvin Pickard in the expansion draft was the only other head-scratcher.
On that subject, the Vegas Golden Knights’ offseason can be thrown into question.
The Golden Knights undoubtedly made a ton of great moves from June until now. Using their leverage to acquire two additional first round picks and Alex Tuch, among others, was super impressive. However, some of George McPhee’s further moves were confusing.
For one, they drafted way too many defensemen. Currently, they have eleven defensemen on one-way contracts. That’s about three or four too many, and that is even after trading the likes of Marc Methot, Alexei Emelin, and David Schlemko.
Due to their abundance on the blueline, the Golden Knights will either be forced to put some players through waivers or trade them below market value. McPhee once held all the cards, but now the role is reversed. What he does in these next few weeks will be interesting to watch.
Furthermore, they made some questionable picks during the expansion draft, like Deryk Engelland (an unrestricted free agent!) from Calgary and Tomas Nosek from Detroit instead of Petr Mrazek.
The Knights cannot be given a free pass for the offseason, but then again it’s hard to fault them. They were in a strange spot and made the most of it.
The Blackhawks had a weird offseason too, bringing back Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp while ditching Artemi Panarin, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and a few more NHL-level players. These deals are not bad in essence, but it is wrong for Stan Bowman to go out and make these deals and signings just for the sake of getting the band back together. Plain and simple: the moves made the team worse.
Now that brings it to the be-all and end-all, the team which had the worst offseason in 2017.
That team is none other than the Florida Panthers.
Out of the ten top scorers for the Panthers in 2016-2017, five are no longer on the team. They let Jaromir Jagr leave in free agency. They bought out Jussi Jokinen. They traded Jason Demers.
Not a good track record already, but that is just hitting the surface of it.
They traded Reilly Smith to Vegas for a fourth-round pick just to get rid of his salary. Smith is one year removed from a 50-point season and a 8-points in six games playoff run. One bad season should not have changed the perspective on Smith, regardless of the money.
They also let 30 goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault leave to Vegas in the expansion draft. Granted, this one is more complicated than it looks, but they should have moved Marchessault prior to the Golden Knights having the opportunity. Teams would have been (and probably were) lining up at the door to acquire Marchessault at the trade deadline and possibly before the expansion draft as well.
Also, they tried to get Keith Yandle to waive his no-movement clause ahead of the draft, but he declined. That would have been another disaster.
Like with any trade, signing, or buyout, the moves made by all the aforementioned can be and will be looked at in hindsight. Only time will tell how the standings shake out this year, but looking at the moves made in the summer is a pretty solid start.
The Florida Panthers had a disappointing 2016-2017 season, however they possess a number of quality young players and the future looks bright for them. However, that poses an issue for the expansion draft.
Up front, there are a few locks for players to be protected. They are Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck, Aleksander Barkov, and Reilly Smith. All four have been signed to long-term deals past 2020.
Nick Bjugstad and Jonathan Marchessault should also be protected.
Bjugstad struggled last season, but a new coach may help him get back on track. As for Marchessault, he broke out with Florida last year and set a career high in points with 51. He may just be a one-year-wonder, but Florida cannot risk it and leave him exposed. It is equally as likely that he will repeat his success next season.
As for the last spot, it comes down to Jussi Jokinen, Derek MacKenzie, and Colton Sceviour.
Jokinen, 34, is still an NHL player, however he has been on the decline recently. Due to his age and contract, it is unlikely that Vegas would select him if he was left exposed.
Sceviour is younger and is coming off a 24 point season. He is a bottom-six player, but has the potential to put up consistent 30 point seasons in the future.
My personal preference would be to protect Sceviour, but would it be surprising to see Florida protect Derek MacKenzie? He is Florida’s captain and signed through 2019. He definitely does not fit the Golden Knights’ bill, but Florida clearly values him highly. It will be interesting to see.
On defense, Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad will absolutely be protected.
The last spot comes down to Jason Demers, Mark Pysyk, and Alex Petrovic. I believe it will be between Demers and Pysyk in the end. Regardless, the two who are left unprotected will be prime candidates to be taken by Vegas.
In goal, Roberto Luongo gets the nod.
The Florida Panthers protection list could wind up looking like this:
Forwards: Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Reilly Smith, Vincent Trocheck, Jonathan Marchessault, Nick Bjugstad, and Colton Sceviour OR Derek MacKenzie
Defense: Keith Yandle, Aaron Ekblad, and ONE OF Demers/Pysyk/Petrovic
Goalie: Roberto Luongo
Next team: Los Angeles Kings
Chuck Fletcher and the Minnesota Wild are looking to get better for next season, and they may have to deal one of their defensemen to do so. With Ryan Suter eating big minutes and Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, Matt Dumba, and Jonas Brodin falling behind him, the Wild certainly have an abundance of NHL caliber defensemen. This does not include Mike Reilly, Nate Prosser, and Christian Folin either. Read the rest of this entry
If the past few weeks are any indication, we can expect the Florida Panthers to have an active offseason. Read the rest of this entry
The 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs have provided a number of teams with a chance to change their past. The Sharks, Islanders, Panthers, and Capitals all have a shot at a redemption of sorts, but the road getting there won’t be easy.
The Sharks have gotten a chance to face bitter foe Los Angeles in the playoffs once again, and more importantly for the first time since the historic 2014 collapse. In that series, as we all know, the Sharks were up 3-0 before the Kings stormed back on their road to their second Stanley Cup in three years. The Sharks yet again are up 2-0 this year with a chance to make it 3-0 tonight.
Both rosters have changed and evolved since the 2014 bout, especially San Jose’s. Players like Joel Ward and Joonas Donskoi are new to the mix as well as head coach Peter DeBoer behind the bench.
Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau don’t have much time left in the NHL unfortunately. The Sharks have a chance to do something special this year and erase the 2014 meltdown from memory and finally move on.
The Islanders and Panthers are two teams going head to head that have some disappointing history within their respective franchises. The Panthers haven’t won a playoff series since 1996, however they are outdone by the Islanders who haven’t won one since 1993. Both are young, hungry teams looking to make the leap to legitimate contenders.
Garth Snow and the Islanders are certainly closer to the threshold for change than the Panthers are, despite Dale Tallon’s trade deadline extravaganza. One team will undoubtedly go home empty handed and disappointed, but one will head back to their home city with a changed history.
The Capitals have some ugly history to vex also. They had the most points in the league again this year, a feat they also accomplished in 2009-2010 when the Montreal Canadiens eliminated them in round one. The Capitals have never won the Stanley Cup and have only advanced to the finals once in their history. That year, 1998, was also the last year the Capitals made it past the second round.
Ovechkin and company have their best chance at making a run at the Cup this year for the first time in far too long. The first step is getting to the third round, though.
Plenty of teams have the chance to re-write history in the first round (or beyond) this year. The playoffs are a new animal and there’s never any rhyme or rhythm with how things will shake out. The fate of these four teams can only and will only be decided on a game to game basis.
The next big domino of the NHL trading season fell on Thursday night, when the Winnipeg Jets traded captain Andrew Ladd to Chicago for Marko Dano and a first round pick. Other assets were involved, like Jay Harrison and a conditional pick, but the latter was the lump of the deal.
This will be Ladd’s second stint with Chicago, the city where he won a Stanley Cup in 2010. Ladd was a victim of the first of three large cap crunches Chicago has gone through.
Both teams make out well on this trade, that is if Chicago wins the Cup again. The Blackhawks brought in Ladd to play along side Jonathan Toews, a spot formerly occupied by a number of players including Ryan Garbutt for a short period of time.
The package coming back to Winnipeg sets them up quite nicely as well. Marko Dano, although bouncing around a lot from team to team, is a solid player with the potential to be a top-six forward. The Jets also add another first round pick, likely in the 24 to 30 range. The Jets are loaded up front for the future with the likes of Scheifele, Connor, Dano, Lemieux, Petan, Ehlers, Roslovic, and Armia.
This deal sets up the market for the upcoming days. Beside Loui Eriksson, and maybe Mikkel Boedker depending how desperate teams are, Ladd was probably the priciest option out there. Actually, as the trade rumors came through, I was writing something up saying that teams that lose out on Ladd could potentially go after the similar but cheaper option in Jamie McGinn from Buffalo. Florida and Pittsburgh could be on that.
We will likely see more trades come through before the deadline, which does take some of the excitement out of Monday, but it’s fun to see trades regardless.
-Like the Jets, other teams up north are gathering offers for some of their players before deadline day. Edmonton has been aggressively shopping Justin Schultz. Don’t be surprised if that gets done within 24 hours. Montreal has looked at options for Weise but nothing yet, that’ll probably wait for Monday.
-A Loui Eriksson trade will likely have to wait until Monday at around 3 o’clock to come in. Boston doesn’t mind holding onto him either.
As we know, the trade deadline is rapidly approaching and teams are beginning to decide their plans of action. The Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers are expected to be two teams on the aggression come February 29th.
The Nashville Predators currently sit one point out of a playoff spot behind the Colorado Avalanche and two points behind the Minnesota Wild. Anaheim and Vancouver are knocking on the door behind them by three points, but the Pacific Division makes it a weird case.
Despite already pulling off the biggest trade of the year with Ryan Johansen and Seth Jones, the Predators are expected to continue trying to add pieces over this next month. Granted, they’ve found themselves out of the playoff picture partly due to Pekka Rinne’s poor play (.906 SV%), but the team still needs to add offense.
Loui Eriksson has been a name that has popped up there recently. He is looking for a long term deal with a lot of cash, so he’d likely be a rental over anything. Another player the Predators should explore going after is Teddy Purcell from Edmonton. Purcell currently has 29 points in 50 games for the Oilers. He would be one of the cheaper options.
I wonder what Nashville is going to do with college standout Jimmy Vesey. He is set to be able to become a free agent this summer and Nashville still hasn’t signed him. He is tearing it up in Harvard as he has the past few years. Would he be a good trade chip if teams are willing to risk losing him? The Predators don’t seem to be in a good position to sign him as of now.
The Panthers are in a similar boat to Nashville although they are poised to be even more aggressive. Everyone, including most recently Pierre LeBrun, have pegged them as a perfect landing spot for Andrew Ladd. Reports out of Florida indicate that they have no interest in him, but I’m not so sure you can buy into that. He would come at a hefty price, but Tallon knows him from Chicago and he has only gotten better since then.
Vancouver and Calgary also pose intriguing options with Radim Vrbata and Jiri Hudler respectively. Both players are set to be free agents this summer, however both teams can still squeeze out a playoff birth in the Pacific, Vancouver more likely. These next few weeks will determine whether these two men make it to the market and I would not expect a deal to be made before February 29th.
This trade deadline is set to be an exciting one, not just for Panthers and Predators fans. We should have a lot to talk about.
The NHL started it’s Christmas break today. This year seems a bit odd for many reasons, from scoring to standings. Many things are not what anybody expected from this year’s league and there are a lot a questions to be asked.
What’s wrong with the Pacific Division?
The Central Division has held the title of “toughest division” for the past couple of years, with little disparity between first and last place. However, the Pacific Division was always considered to be the second strongest division out there, beating out the “weaker” Eastern Conference. That is not the case this year. Six of the seven teams have more losses (including overtime losses) than wins. The Kings have control of the division by six points. This is also strange because the Sharks, Coyotes and Oilers are all doing better than they did last year. There’s still time to turn it around and make those teams feared again, but the start of the season has indicated the opposite.
Can the Anaheim Ducks and Ryan Getzlaf turn it around?
Going along with the Pacific Division topic, the Ducks are currently sitting last in that division and second to last in the league, although they do have some games in hand. Last year’s Western Conference leaders have taken a significant drop off despite not making any major offseason moves outside of the Hagelin-for-Etem trade. Their captain Ryan Getzlaf has started cold and is continuing to be cold with one goal in 29 games, after scoring at least 25 in the two seasons prior. The Ducks are running out of time quick but may be saved by the poor play in their division.
How about them Panthers?
I had the Panthers as a bubble team this year, but so far they’ve blown away expectations. They are one point away from leading the Atlantic with a game in hand on Montreal. Jagr has continued his dominance, and the emergence of young players like Nick Bjugstad and Aleksander Barkov have fueled this team to make it to the top. The Panthers look to be in line to be players at the trade deadline this year. Radim Vrbata, anyone?
How will the Johansen situation solve itself?
Ryan Johansen and Columbus seemed to be on pretty good terms last year, despite missing the playoffs and having a lengthy and stressful contract situation during the offseason. It’s all gone downhill now, however. His relationship with new coach John Tortorella is strained to say the very least and has come with multiple benching incidents and even a healthy scratch. Rumblings around the league have suggested that Johansen is being shopped to some aggressive degree. Whether or not Columbus is willing to move him while his value is at an all time low is the quandary.
Can the Penguins correct themselves?
The Penguins were labeled a frontrunner for the Metropolitan Division in July when they acquired Phil Kessel, despite having suspect defense. This issue, along with a lack of production from players including Sidney Crosby, has pushed the Penguins to five points out of a playoff spot as of the morning of December 23rd. They fired Mike Johnston and brought in Mike Sullivan, but can he fix the sinking ship that is the Penguins?
Only time will tell how some of these stories play out, especially as we inch closer to the trade deadline. The league has gotten more and more competitive so as time goes on it’ll be tougher and tougher for teams like Pittsburgh and Anaheim to fix their issues and climb the standings. The midway point of the season is just around the corner, folks.
Ryan Johansen’s season is Columbus hasn’t been the best and he has now found himself in serious trade discussions. Johansen has been benched for lengthy portions of games on numerous occasions by new coach John Tortorella, and he even became a healthy scratch against Arizona this past week.
There will be no lack of interest if Ryan Johansen is on the trading market. Despite his reported bad attitude or unwillingness to work hard at times, Johansen is still a dominant player. Just last season it looked like he could be a franchise piece for the Blue Jackets, which is exactly what they intended for him to be when they made him the fourth overall pick in 2010. After a rough first two years, Johansen broke out with 63 points two years ago and 71 last year and looked like an elite centerman.
Some of the teams that would be interested in Johansen likely include the Nashville Predators and the St. Louis Blues, but the Florida Panthers seem to make a lot of sense. They need extra scoring, as well as a first line center as Aleksander Barkov develops. It would be a lethal one-two punch immediately and neither of them have hit their primes yet. The Panthers are currently a bubble team, just edging out New Jersey by two points for the last wildcard spot. Dale Tallon has been long searching for that extra top-six scoring and he should smell the blood in the water and attack now.
The price, however, would still be high still. You’re looking at a high pick or two and a combination of a roster player (probably a defenseman) and a prospect. Some players possibly going back Columbus’ way could be Brandon Pirri or Alex Petrovic, but that’s pure speculation as of now.
This cannot be a move Florida (or any other bubble team) waits until late February to do. Albeit Johansen is locked under contract one more year after this, the teams in need of him need him right away. You’re taking a risk off the ice, but the on ice rewards could be huge. Johansen could use a change of scenery (and coaches) to boost his moral and play a little bit as well. His relationship with Columbus has been strained since his lengthy contract negotiations with them in the summer of 2014.
This dilemma is only adding onto the long and tiring season of the Blue Jackets, who sit at the bottom of the league. Things need to be sorted out soon or tensions will continue to rise.
Well, general managers certainly don’t seem content on waiting until Monday to make trades after all? After a flurry of activity yesterday afternoon, today, by some grace of god, took the cake. Both Jaromir Jagr and David Clarkson (do you believe in miracles?) were traded, igniting what appears to be a fire sale for both franchises. Dave Nonis managed to partially erase the mess he started, and did what many people thought was to be impossible in trading David Clarkson.
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