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Analyzing the Atlantic: Florida Panthers Edition

The Panthers were so good last season, and yet....

SPORTS-HKN-COTE-COLUMN-MI Sydney Walsh/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The Florida Panthers did a lot of things right last season. They set franchise records for wins and points in a season. Their 122 points was the second-highest of any team since the 2005-06 season and gave them the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time.

Jonathan Huberdeau finished the season with 115 points, a significant career-high and second-most among all skaters. Sergei Bobrovsky won 39 of 54 games played and had a .913 save percentage, second-best in the league.

A lot of things went well - until, for the second straight year, the Panthers got struck by Lightning. They took care of the Capitals in six games in the first round of the playoffs, but hit a wall in the second round & got swept by Tampa. In 2021, the Panthers lost in the first round to the Lightning, who eventually became Stanley Cup Champs.

The big question is now, where do they go from here? The Panthers have had a couple very respectable seasons but ultimately failed to reach the Stanley Cup Final. GM Bill Zito and ownership aren’t afraid to shake things up, as evidenced by multiple moves this offseason, and will look to get to the top again.

On The Roster

Nothing quite like taking one of your best players and all-time franchise points leader, who’s coming off his career-best season, and... trading him. The splash of the offseason for the Panthers saw them do just that, sending Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar and Cole Schwindt along with a conditional first-round pick in 2025 to the Calgary Flames. In return, Florida picked up Matthew Tkachuk and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2025.

Tkachuk is a significant piece, especially given the context of the contracts involved in the deal. If you’re going to give up a guy like Huberdeau, a guy like Tkachuk is what you’d expect to get in return. He’s played his entire career in Calgary up to this point and is also coming off a career-best season. His 42 goals and 62 assists for 104 points in 82 games far surpass any of his previous numbers. He’s an offensive threat and it was certainly a blockbuster deal.

Elsewhere, the Panthers also lost a handful of their UFA players, including Claude Giroux. Giroux spent only a small part of the season in Florida, but he made an impact: 23 points, including 20 assists, in just 18 games. Unfortunately for Florida (and for the Sabres), he’s staying in the division after signing with the Senators. Noel Acciari, Ben Chiarot, Robert Hagg, Mason Marchment & Markus Nutivaara all signed elsewhere, while Joe Thornton remains unsigned.

Front Office Happenings

Andrew Brunette served as the team’s interim coach for most of last season, taking over for Joel Quenneville and leading the team through the final 75 games of the season. Despite his success, the interim tag wasn’t removed and now, Paul Maurice comes in as head coach. Maurice, of course, has quite the history & most recently resigned from the Winnipeg Jets in December 2021. He has prior head coaching experience with Carolina, Toronto and Hartford.

Matchups

Sat., Oct. 15, 1 PM vs. Florida

Mon., Jan. 16, 1 PM vs. Florida

Fri., Feb. 24, 7 PM @ Florida

Tue., April 4, 7 PM @ Florida