As the free agent signings rolled in on Friday for the Florida Panthers, fans where left wondering where the grit was? Where’s the tough guy? Where’s the checking line winger? Saturday, the Panthers answered those questions in the form of veteran right winger Matt Bradley, formerly of the Washington Capitals. In Bradley, Florida gets a guy who not only will stand up for teammates and drop the gloves, but a guy who can play. He’s just a season removed from a ten goal, 24 point season, which is something you don’t expect from your fourth line tough guy.
Bradley began his career as a member of San Jose Sharks, who drafted him in the fourth round of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, in 2000-2001 season. In his second season, he put up totals that currently rank among the second best in his career, 22 points (9 goals). Following one more season in California and a season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he signed with the Washington Capitals as an unrestricted free agent post-lockout in 2005, where he’d spend the next six seasons. In his time with the Caps, he became a dressing room and fan favorite for his humility and his humor.
With Kevin Dineen now behind the bench, my hope is that he utilizes a guy like Bradley on a nightly basis. He’s been among the top hitters for his teams that past few years despite playing fourth line minutes. That kind of hitting and energy is a welcome addition to a team that could use a giant dose of it. Let’s hope Dineen has more use for this type of player than former bench boss Pete DeBoer had for them. Always frustrating to see your energy guy on the bench in a close game while another winger double shifts in his stead when energy and physicality are needed.
Our fansided brethren at Capitals Outsider compiled a this list of their favorite Matt Bradley moments. Give it a look to see the kind of guy we have coming on board.
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