Matthew Tkachuk Trade: The Pros and Cons for the Panthers

The Panthers traded for Matthew Tkachuk. Did they give up too much in the process?

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

There’s blockbuster trades, and then there’s the Matthew Tkachuk trade.

In what may be the gutsiest move in the last decade, the Florida Panthers acquired 24-year-old star Matthew Tkachuk. What they gave up certainly fit a player of Tkachuk’s caliber: Johnathan Huberdeau, Mackenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt, and a 2025 first round pick.

Immediately, this trade becomes one of the biggest in NHL history. Per ESPN stats and info, it is only the second time in NHL history that two 100-point scorers the season prior were traded for each other. The other time? When the Oilers trade some guy named Wayne Gretzky to LA in exchange for Jimmy Carson, among others.

Obviously, a trade of this caliber is never a no-brainer for either GM. There were pros and cons and arguments to be made for why both sides won this deal. Here are some of the pros and cons for the Panthers on their side of the Matthew Tkachuk trade.

Pro: Matthew Tkachuk is Really, Really Good

This may seem incredibly simple, but its worth reiterating: the Panthers got the best player in this deal. It may not seem obvious at first glance considering Huberdeau’s 115-point (wow!) season last year, but Tkachuk is more well-rounded than Huberdeau.

Last season, Tkachuk tallied 104 points (42G, 62A) in 82 games. Fewer points than Huberdeau, but he has a much better knack for scoring goals. His career shooting percentage (13.5%) is significantly higher than Huby’s (12.6%) and he’s a much more willing shooter as well. Tkachuk finish last year with 253 shots compared to Huberdeau’s 222.

With context, these stats point to the fact that Tkachuk is a more self-sustaining player. While Huberdeau enhances the surrounding talent with his incredible play-making, Tkachuk creates the offense for himself. Tkachuk’s ability to drive play himself is inherently more valuable than Huberdeau’s skill set, even if Huby has the higher point total. Tkachuk also has the better defensive game, which always contributes to winning.

Con: The Defense Took a Huge Step Back

With Mackenzie Weegar now off to Calgary, the Panthers already thin defensive corps just got thinner. Aaron Ekblad is now the only true top pair defenseman on the roster. Guys better suited for top four roles, such as Gustav Forsling and Brandon Montour, will have to play above their heads, and aging veterans like Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto will play more than expected.

We saw how the Panthers struggled last year when Ekblad went down with an injury. Players played bigger roles they weren’t suited for, and the team allowed an unseemly amount of goals. This may be the reality for this upcoming season, and the team may rely on simply outscoring their opponents yet again.

Pro: The Matthew Tkachuk Trade Clears Up the Cap Situation

Immediately after Florida acquired Tkachuk, he signed an 8-year, 76 million dollar deal (9.5M AAV) with the team. That locks up the dynamic duo of Tkachuk and Aleksander Barkov for the next eight years. With Huberdeau and Weegar now gone, it also removes the threat of their expiring contracts.

Both Weegar and Huberdeau are set to be UFAs at the end of the season, and the team would likely not have had the money to re-sign both of them. This means they would have likely lost at least one of them for nothing.

In addition, the Panthers will have almost 16 million dollars of cap space to use next off-season, with only smaller contracts needing new deals internally. They could use this cap space to shore up their defense, or provide cap relief to another team experiencing a cap crunch. Regardless, the Panthers managed to avoid an upcoming cap nightmare with this move.

Con: It Uprooted a Really Good Thing

As I’ve stated before when the Panthers hired Paul Maurice, this team did not need to make any major changes. Yes, the playoff loss was incredibly disappointing, but they also had a historically good regular season. All of a sudden, this team looks drastically different from last year’s, which nobody would have predicted (nor wanted) when the season ended.

None of that is to say the Panthers will be a bad team next season. In fact, they will likely still be very good. However, in a league where success is remarkably elusive, why take such a huge risk?

It was inevitable that some players would leave for bigger roles and bigger checks, but to send out a franchise cornerstone changes the entire dynamic of the team. The team will have to answer far more questions this upcoming season than any Presidents Trophy winner in recent memory.

Pro: The fit is seamless

One overlooked facet of this trade is how much younger it made the core of the Panthers roster. At only 24 years old, Tkachuk still has lots of room to grow with this group. Sergei Bobrovsky is the only significant roster player over 26 years old. The timelines of all the major players now line up in the same way most Stanley Cup contenders do.

On the ice, Tkachuk brings a front-of-the-net presence the Panthers were missing. His physicality and strength near the crease will complement the more shot-happy players on the roster such as Anthony Duclair and Carter Verhaeghe. His willingness to shoot will bolster any line with the unselfish players like Sam Reinhart or Barkov

As to who won the trade, only time will tell. Everyone will have their opinions and discussions will be had for years afterwards. Until the season starts in October, all this will be is speculation. Either way this ends up going, however, it will be incredible to watch unfold.

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Anton Lundell and his case for the Calder

Anton Lundell has had a stellar rookie season for the Panthers, yet he has not received the national attention he deserves.

Florida Panthers rookie and Calder Trophy hopeful Anton Lundell
Anton Lundell fights off checker Oliver Bjorkstrand in a game against Columbus (via @FLAPanthersPR)

In a season highlighted by breakout rookie seasons across the league, Anton Lundell has managed to fly under the radar. As the season wraps up and awards conversations pick up, his name has not been mentioned enough.

Each year, the NHL awards the Calder Memorial Trophy (known colloquially as the Calder) to the best rookie performer in the NHL. Former winners include Panthers Aaron Ekblad and Johnathan Huberdeau. This year, the Panthers have yet another rookie worthy of receiving this award: Anton Lundell.

In all likelihood, Lundell will not win the Calder. The likes of Trevor Zegras, Lucas Raymond, and Moritz Seider have received too much national attention comparatively. Still, his impact matches, and maybe even exceeds, that of his peers. Hypothetically, if the league wanted to give the Calder to Lundell, this would be the case.

Anton Lundell has the raw stats

Currently, Lundell has 18 goals and 25 assists on the year. This puts him fifth among rookies with 43 points. While that may not stand out initially, keep in mind injuries have limited Lundell to 61 games this season. All the players above him have played over 70.

Additionally, Lundell averages less than 16 minutes on ice per game. Compare that to Zegras and Raymond who average about 18 minutes per game. I am ignoring Seider’s TOI numbers since defensemen typically play more minutes on average. Once the points are adjusted for ice time, the stats become eerily similar. Lundell scores 2.66 points per 60 minutes, almost a dead lock with Zegras’s 2.68 points per 60, and well above Raymond’s 2.41.

This discrepancy is a product of the team around him. The Florida Panthers have an other-worldly forward corps, which means he gets less ice time. It also means he gets no regular power play time, unlike his counterparts. Seider, Zegras, and Raymond all average over two and a half minutes of power play time a game.

Simply put, factors out of Lundell’s control contributed to the points discrepancy shown. Given the same opportunity, Lundell would match, if not exceed, the production of the other Calder contenders.

He is also a defensive specialist

When people call Anton Lundell a miniature Aleksander Barkov, this is the sticking point. On the defensive side of the puck, few rookies have been as effective as Lundell. The coaching staff has taken notice, and use him as a regular on the penalty kill.

Lundell averages almost two and a half minutes of penalty kill time per game. This number is fourth among rookies, and far more than any other rookie in the Calder race. That defensive responsibility does not show up in the box score, but should be considered in the discussion. Lundell has also notched four short-handed points this season, a top-10 mark in the league.

This strong defensive play contributes to winning more than any single statistic can show. Lundell’s ability to shut down opposing attacks while not sacrificing any offensive output puts him in a rare class of player. His +33 rating leads all rookies by a landslide, and shows the type of impact he has on both ends of the ice.

Lundell makes those around him better

A big part of the Panthers’ dominance this season has been their forward depth. Specifically, the third line of Anton Lundell, Sam Reinhart, and Mason Marchment has been the best bottom 6 line in the entire league.

As the center of this line, Lundell controls much of the pace and flow they play with. His poise and control on the ice has played a huge part in his wingers having career years.

Sam Reinhart was already an established player before joining the Panthers. With Buffalo, Reinhart scored 20 goals and topped 50 points consistently. In his first season in Florida, however, Reinhart has reached new career highs with 28 goals and 48 assists in 73 games. His play has been stellar, but Lundell should receive credit for developing such good chemistry and putting him in places to succeed.

The same can be said about Mason Marchment, who is having a breakout year. In his first full year in the NHL, Marchment has totaled 42 points in 51 games. The 26 year old came to Florida two years ago in a trade with Toronto. After some flashes last year, Marchment has become a genuine offensive threat once the team placed him on a line with Lundell.

As I said earlier, there is little to no chance of Anton Lundell winning the Calder. Zegras has scored too many Michigan goals, and Seider has doled out too many big hits for Lundell to be seriously considered. All of this is to say that anyone who overlooks the impact Lundell has had on the best team in the eastern conference is doing themselves a disservice. He has the most complete game of anyone in this rookie class, and for my money, should be a Calder Trophy contender.

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Florida Panthers Injury Bug: Potentially Beneficial

Florida panthers injury
Credit: Sun Sentinel

The injury bug has officially hit the Florida Panthers.

Despite losing five lineup regulars to injury, have maintained the best record in the NHL through 24 games. The past three games in particular have been an absolute masterclass in effort, poise and discipline. In all three games, the panthers faced a serious uphill battle. It never rattled them. The 4-1 deficits they faced in two of those games would have broken most other teams.

Not this group, this group likes the challenge.

Three games in a row they trailed for the majority of the game, and all three still ended with two points. What could have been a brutal stretch for a team missing its best player has turned into an indictment of anyone who doubted them. The fans have even revitalized the “comeback cats” nickname because of the recent games.

This recent stretch has elevated the Panthers into a different echelon of hockey team. Changes the coaching staff has been forced to make (due to the injuries the Florida Panthers have had) have unlocked a cavalcade of new dynamic weapons. If the roster can regain its health, these new team developments will be the key to cup contention going forward.

Reinhart and Huberdeau: A Match Made in Heaven

When Aleksander Barkov went down with injury, Head Coach Andrew Brunette chose to pull out an old trick. He reunited Anthony Duclair with Johnathan Huberdeau and Sam Bennett. When Anthony Duclair went down, Coach Bruno had to think of something new. He decided to place newcomer Sam Reinhart on the top line with the Bennett-Huberdeau pairing.

Right now, that move looks to be a stroke of genius. In the past three games, Huberdeau has nine points (1G, 8A) while Reinhart has six points (3G, 3A.) They have arguably been the biggest contributors to the comeback cats over the most recent stretch. Even when the puck stays out of the net, that line controls play and does not let their opponents generate shots.

Reinhart snipes the game winning goal on a pass from Johnathan Huberdeau (via @JamesonCoop on twitter)

Reinhart has struggled at times this year, as has the Bennett-Huberdeau line depending on who is paired with them. This change seems to be a solution for both. When Barkov and Duclair return, the Panthers have the ability to have two of the most productive lines in hockey. If it comes to fruition, they will have an offensive advantage no matter the matchup.

Lucas Carlsson — The Missing Piece on Defense

Coming into the season, most fans and analysts agreed that the biggest hole on this Panthers team was on the blue line. Injuries placed additional strain on the defense, as regulars Markus Nutivaara and Gustav Forsling have both been out of the lineup. Several replacements have been placed in the lineup, but only one has stood out positively: Lucas Carlsson.

Carlsson, the former fourth round pick for the Chicago Blackhawks, was not considered one of the top defensive prospects in the organization. Most would have considered Matt Keirsted or Chase Priskie to be more NHL ready than Carlsson. When the opportunity arose, however, it has been Carlsson who has impressed. In his last two games, Carlsson registered four points (1G, 3A) all while driving play at a very high level.

Lucas Carlson blasts home a shot (via @FlaPanthers) on twitter

Carlsson’s booming slap shot and willingness to join the offense has created numerous scoring chances for the cats. His instincts and nose for the puck have been matched by his smarts of the defensive end. Carlsson has played like an NHL veteran this season despite playing less than 30 NHL games. If he can maintain this level of play the rest of the season, the Panthers may have enough quality defensemen to solve their blue line woes.

Not The Depth You Expected

In October, the names most commonly mentioned when discussing the forward depth of the Florida Panthers were guys like Frank Vatrano, Owen Tippett, and Patric Hornqvist. Those guys have all had their moments, but I would argue they have not been the game changers in the bottom six the way others have. Namely, two of the biggest catalysts behind the comeback cats of late have been Ryan Lomberg and Eetu Loustarinen. Together, the pair have been textbook at turning defense into offense.

The game against the Washington capitals on Tuesday perfectly exemplifies what they bring. Down 4-1, Ryan Lomberg buried a rebound and Eetu Loustarinen scored on a shorthanded breakaway to bring the cats within one. The Panthers ended up winning that game, and they can thank the two of them for igniting the comeback.

Lomberg and Loustarinen play their roles perfectly, and it allows the Panthers to always generate scoring opportunities even when their best players are on the bench. Having a fourth line that can generate consistent offense from unsung heroes will give opposing teams fits for the rest of the year.

Eetu Loustarinen Scores shorthanded on a great feed from Lomberg (via @JamesonCoop on twitter)

Coming Up

The Panthers begin a three game west coast trip on Tuesday with a rematch against the Blues. hopefully they will have some players returning from injury by then. If not, be prepared for the comeback cats to pull off another one.

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Panthers vs Lightning: post-game recap

The Panthers played their in state rival on Tuesday, with plenty of takeaways to discuss.

Panthers vs Lightning
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers continue to impress, this time vs in-state rivals the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In the most recent hockey battle of Florida, the Panthers pulled off one of their most decisive wins against the defending Stanley Cup champs. They improve to 3-0-0 after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1.

Although Tampa was without Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning played a strong team game in both the offensive and defensive zones. They gave the Panthers all they could handle, but the Panthers still prevailed.

While it is only game three of the season, this game could mark a passing of the torch for the best team in Florida. The Lightning have dominated that matchup for the better part of last decade. If this most recent game is any indication, however, the next decade could be very different.

Panthers vs Lightning Game Recap

In the first period, both teams failed to put a puck in the back of the net. Through a combination of good defense and stellar goaltending, the teams went into the first intermission tied at 0.

In the second period, Brandon Montour broke the ice. As a Panthers power play winded down, Anton Lundell won a faceoff. He threw the puck back to Sam Reinhart who tossed it cross ice to Brandon Montour. Montour, wide open on the right side of the ice, capitalized with a beautiful wrister to beat Andrei Vasilevsky glove side. It was the first goal of the season for Montour and the first points for Lundell and Reinhart.

Early in the third period, Brayden Point evened the game for the Lightning. Not even one minute later, the Captain answered. Barkov and his line generated a lot of activity in front of the net, and Barkov tipped it in.

Later in the third, the kid had his moment. A beautiful transition two man game was only outshined by Lundell’s beautiful snipe. His first career goal game on a pass from newcomer Sam Reinhart, and put the Panthers up by two.

Anthony Duclair put in an empty net a few minutes after, extending his goal streak and icing the game for the Panthers vs the Lightning.

Quick Takeaways

  • While Penalties are still a problem, Penalty killing is not. The Panthers took 6 penalties and killed off every single one, including an extended 5 on 3. Anton Lundell specifically has shined on the penalty kill.
  • The power play still needs work. The Cats failed to score on the man advantage yet again. To remedy this, Coach Q swapped Reinhart for Hornqvist on the top line. This changed seemed to help a bit, but has not bore fruit yet.
  • Goalie Spencer Knight continues to live up to the hype. He made 30 saves on 31 shots. That type of performance against this caliber of team at 20 years old is borderline unheard of.
  • Rookie Anton Lundell had his best game of his career thus far. Besides the goal and assist. He led the team with over 4 minutes of penalty kill time. He is starting to look like a future all star.
  • Sam Reinhart seems to have good chemistry with Lundell on that third line. Undoubtedly a fair bit of talent to keep on a third line, but if it aint broke…
  • After a shaky first two games, Radko Gudas had some shutdown penalty kill minutes. They will need more of that from him going forward.

Looking Ahead

The Panthers play the Avalanche at home on Thursday at 7 P.M. Another good test for this team against another cup contender.

Florida Panthers 2021-2022 Season Preview: The Cup Window Opens

Floirda Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville
(Quenneville pouring Champagne into the Stanley Cup/Origin Unknown)

The preseason is over, the final cuts have been made, and the regular season awaits us. The Florida Panthers finally kick off their most anticipated season in franchise history. Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the FLA Live Arena.

On paper, this is the deepest Panthers team I’ve ever seen. Guys who were regulars in the lineup last season will see their ice time reduced. Via off-season acquisitions and the rise of several of the Young Cats. 


Patric Hornqvist, started last season on the second line and was a lock for PP1 minutes. He is now looking at a bottom six role and a role on the PP2 unit. Anthony Duclair floated between the top two lines last season, earned a contract extension in the offseason. He is projected to be a third line winger just because that’s how good this team is.

So much credit has to be given to the front office for getting the team to this point. Bill Zito and Co turned this team around from pretenders to contenders in a little over a calendar year.

But at the end of the day, roster moves do not determine who wins the Stanley Cup. The games have to be played. I know the boys are up for the challenge, and while minor I think the team’s new social media hashtag describes the energy in the locker room, it’s #TimeToHunt

This is a team that’s hungry. A team that knew they were good enough to win last year. They were just a bit unlucky with injuries and having to face the Lightning in the first round. This isn’t a group of individuals who are going to make excuses though.

It’s a team who would rather go out on the ice and show just how good they are. It’s a team filled with highly motivated players who all want to win and win together HERE. Aleksander Barkov’s comments at his extension press conference highlight this belief.

Opening Night Roster

As I mentioned before, this is the deepest Florida Panthers team we’ve ever had. The team has changed a bit since we recorded our season preview episode a few weeks ago though.

Noel Acciari received shoulder surgery and is expected to be out for a few months, while 7th Defenseman Kevin Connauton is currently on the IR with the expectation that he joins the team sooner rather than later.

On top of that, the team made a trade with the Vancouver Canucks for Olli Juolevi. Juolevi was the fifth overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and has had an underwhelming start to his NHL career. The Panthers acquired him for Juho Lammiko and Noah Juulsen and the team hopes a change of scenery can help revive his career. We saw this work out for the Panthers last season with the acquisition of Sam Bennett, and it will be interesting to see how Juolevi plays with an opportunity to impress Joel Quenneville early.

(Panthers Opening Night Roster / @FlaPanthers twitter)


The initial list is not surprising at all. Prospects Grigori Denisenko and Aleksi Heponiemi were cut early in camp, showing that they still have a ways to go in their development. This is a good thing for the Panthers, as they can get a full season of AHL hockey under their belts before being expected to become significant contributors for the team in the 2022-2023 season.

Of all the names on the list, all eyes will be on Anton Lundell. Lundell has been described as “Barkov Jr.” by fans and beat reporters since he was drafted, and we’ll get to see him start in the big leagues. How he plays will be a major area of focus when it comes to the personnel moves made by the team, as they may be forced to move lines around or acquire another center if he isn’t ready.


RIP the Matt Kiersted 7D hype train. Like the forwards list, the defensemen come with zero surprises as well. The team made clear who their six defenders were by their offseason moves, and Juolevi is a shot in the dark until Kevin Connauton returns.

If the Panthers are to make a big move in season, I think it’ll be to shore up their bottom four defensemen. We already know Mackenzie Weegar, Aaron Ekblad, and Gustav Forsling are locked in on defense. Radko Gudas plays the enforcer role, leaving Brandon Montour and Markus Nutivaara. Their play early in the season will tell Zito and Quenneville whether or not a personnel change is needed, and the front office has shown they’re willing to make moves.


With Chris Gibson heading to Charlotte, the Panthers begin the season with Sergei Bobrovsky as their starter. Rookie phenom Spencer Knight as his backup. The word all offseason has been a goalie by committee approach, similar to last season, with Bob getting the bulk of the starts. However, I believe Bob will have a shorter leash than he used to. Knight’s development and play last season has accelerated the timetable for him to become the #1. As he went from winning the World Juniors with Team USA, playing at Boston College, to starting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs within a calendar year.

If Bob can figure it out in Year 3 here, that’s a good thing for the Panthers. The goalie by committee approach worked last season and if the former Vezina winner can get back to that level. The Panthers can ease Spencer Knight into becoming a full-time starter. This will be his first full season in the league.

Opening Night Line Predictions

Take these with a grain of salt, as Q loves to throw his lines in a blender throughout games and change things up.

*Original predictions from a few weeks ago have been scratched out and replaced with those now occupying their spots*

(also shoutout the voice of the Florida Panthers Steve Goldstein for taking the guessing work out of it)

1st LineCarter VerhaegheAleksander BarkovSam Reinhart
2nd LineJonathan HuberdeauSam BennettOwen Tippett
3rd LineFrank VatranoAnton LundellAnthony Duclair
Patric Hornqvist
4th LineNoel Acciari
Joe Thornton
Joe Thornton
Eetu Luostarinen
Patric Hornqvist
Anthony Duclair
Defensive Pairing 1Mackenzie WeegarAaron Ekblad
Defensive Pairing 2Gustav ForslingBrandon Montour
Defensive Pairing 3Marcus NutivaaraRadko Gudas

When the team is fully healthy, I expect the guys with their names crossed out to return to their spots.

Line 1- Verhaeghe, Barkov, Reinhart

By the end of the season, this might be the best top line in the league. I wrote earlier this offseason that the team needed another Top 6 forward, and Reinhart is exactly that. Not only that, but Reinhart offers roster flexibility with experience playing at Center. He can help the team should Lundell or Bennett miss any significant time. If that were to happen, Anthony Duclair can be elevated to the top line and we’ve seen what 23-16-10 can do together. Reinhart’s skills should mesh with Verhaeghe and Barkov nicely, and I’m excited to see what they can do throughout the year.

Line 2- Huberdeau, Bennett, Tippett

Huberdeau and Bennett are locked into this line, but it’s the RW position where the debate begins. After finding his footing last year and having a strong preseason camp, I believe 74 has earned the right to start on the 2nd line. The chemistry they showed together in the postseason brought out the best in Owen Tippett, and the franchise needs to find out whether it was a fluke or the real deal. If it doesn’t work, Anthony Duclair is still there for the return of the 9-1-1 line (although it’ll need a new name with Duclair now wearing 10)

Line 3- Vatrano, Lundell, Hornqvist // Vatrano, Lundell, Duclair

I’ll break this into two parts, one to talk about early in the season and the other about the playoff push. Vatrano, Lundell, and Hornqvist isn’t a sexy line but I think it can work. You have a proven goal scorer in Vatrano with a guy who has made a career out of parking himself in front of the net in Hornqvist. Those pieces can complement Lundell’s style of play and help him settle into the NHL. I think the Duclair/Hornqvist swap was made to add some speed to the fourth line, and should swap once Acciari comes back.

If we get to see Vatrano, Lundell, Duclair later in the season watch out. We saw how well Duke played with Barkov last season, so we can expect similar results playing alongside Barkov Jr. With Vatrano playing for a contract (and most likely his last as a Panther) he’ll be even more inclined to produce and potentially be an attractive trade chip for the team as the deadline nears.

Line 4- Thornton, Luostarinen, Duclair // Acciari, Thornton, Hornqvist

With the team shipping away Lammiko, we found out Luostarinen is the team’s preferred 4th line center. I’m interested to see how much Thornton plays this season, as Ryan Lomberg and Mason Marchment are younger and can handle the wear and tear of an 82 game season. I’d expect Hornqvist to get similar treatment too, as he and Thornton are going to be more beneficial to the team once the playoffs roll around.

Once Acciari gets back, we’ll have a true grit line. Especially if guys like Lomberg and Marchment get regular playing time. Acciari, Thornton, and Hornqvist are capable of setting the tone and will be a tough line for opposing teams to play against. They’re capable of making teams frustrated and have enough offensive power to make a play when the game is on the line. Thornton came to South Florida to chase a cup, so we know he’ll be hungry and give his all.

Power Play Units

The first Power Play unit is already out there, and it’s lethal. Barkov, Huberdeau, Reinhart, Bennett, and the return of Aaron Ekblad. Like the top line, the power play has a chance to finish on top of the league. Tampa’s power play gave them the edge in the playoffs last season, and the Panthers upgrades should level the playing field.

The second Power Play isn’t set yet, but it’s going to include players like Verhaeghe, Tippett, Duclair, Hornqvist, Montour, or Weegar. That’s an upgrade from last season and should create some good scoring chances if the first unit isn’t able to get it done (which I suspect will not be often)

Penalty Kill Units

Off all units affected by the roster changes, the Penalty Kill took the biggest hit. Alex Wennberg is no longer here and Acciari is out for a portion of the season. I’m not saying that there will be a significant decline in the PK %, just simply stating that the personnel is going to change and we don’t know how effective it will be. Will be interesting to watch how Q and his coaching staff handle the personnel decisions here as the season goes on.

Quick Takes:

  • Barkov leading goalscorer
  • Huberdeau points leader
  • Owen Tippett breakout season
  • Knight takes over as the 1 before the Olympic Break
  • Everyone in the Top 6 finishes with 20+ goals
  • Panthers win the Atlantic

Season Prediction:

As I sit here today writing this, I can see this Florida Panthers team winning it all, which has never been a thought I’ve had as a Panthers fan going into a season. The teams bond is so strong, and that’s accredited to the culture change that’s taken place inside the building since Q arrived. They’re highly motivated to win together, and they’ll play harder than most teams across the league.

While this is just year one of the team’s newly formed Cup Window, I think this may be their best shot. The Cats kept their core together, had the best offseason of any team in the NHL, and have the prospect pool and roster flexibility to be buyers at the deadline. On top of that, this is probably Joe Thornton’s last year in the league, and he chose to chase a cup here.

Personally, I’d just love to see us win one playoff series, but the expectations are higher than that. This is a team that can make and win the conference finals, and this is a team that can win the Stanley Cup.

We’ll have to see how the team navigates through the season and the moves they make at the deadline, but it’s going to be a special few years in Sunrise.

Until next time, we move 🤝