With the trade deadline just over a month away, the rumor mill seems to grow more and more every minute. While there will be many names thrown in and out of the mix, these are four guys that I believe could be of major use to the Florida Panthers. While the likes of super-stars such as Sidney Crosby or Henrik Sedin would be a complete fantasy, I decided to sit down and write four REALISTIC and diverse possibilities that would INSTANTLY catapult the Florida Panthers as Stanley Cup contenders.
Top FOUR guys I would Trade for:
In the beginning of the season, it seemed as if the Florida Panthers had the world in the palm of their hands. Unfortunately, injury began to plague our team, and the impressive scoring touch of our top line, suddenly began to diminish. For Instance: Stephen Weiss has only recorded one goal since December 5th, as well as the slumping Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann who combined have only scored 5 goals over the past month. Not to mention, the Florida Panthers combined have only recorded 113 goals throughout the season, which puts them as the 24th worst NHL team in goals. Now this is where the help of veteran forward Zach Parise comes into the mix. Many of you are probably thinking, “He’s no better than Kris Versteeg.” While this may be your opinion, I certainly beg to differ. Although Parise is statistically on the same page as Versteeg this season, keep in mind that Parise was once a 90-point player. (By once, I mean 3 years ago, followed by an 80 point season.) But sadly, after these two highly recognized seasons, Zach was sidelined for 69 games with a torn Meniscus. Now another year has begun and the newly named captain of the New Jersey Devils currently has 15 goals and 24 assists in 46 games. Although he is not off to his greatest career start, he’s still pretty impressive for a guy who is coming off of a major injury and undergoing major pressure knowing that he is the NHL’s prized unrestricted free agent next year.
With the trade deadline right around the corner, there are many things that remain uncertain for every team around the league. Then there are the two main questions every General Manager asks himself. “Do we re-sign him?” or “Do we trade him?” Well I may not be a GM but there is one thing I do know for certain, and one thing our team lacks. And that is the leadership of a player who will take charge and anchor the Florida Panthers “near perfect” defense. Which is why I believe Ryan Suter of the Nashville Predators belongs in a red jersey. Lucky for us, Suter becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Unlucky for him, Nashville just gave Pekka Rinne a huge contract and captain Shea Weber also received big money in arbitration, so it may be quite difficult for the Predators to re-sign Suter and manage to give him the money he is demanding. Now I’m sure many of you are thinking that Brian Campbell and Ed Jovanovski are the perfect leaders we need on defense, or that Stephen Weiss will probably earn the “C” on his jersey very soon. Well let me tell you something. I believe there is a reason no one has been awarded that “C” yet. Our team is full of great leaders, but we may not have that ONE special leader we truly need. And I see it in defenseman Ryan Suter. Along with his leadership and presence that he brings to the ice, he is solid in every aspect of his current team both offensively and defensively. He would greatly compliment the Florida Panthers defense and solidify a second power-play unit, so that we are guaranteed at least two solid units (in which we lack). Plus, one elite defenseman may not be enough to compete in the run for the Stanley Cup. (YES, I said Stanley Cup, and NOT just the playoffs.)
For the past 3 seasons, the Florida Panthers have struggled to find success and a proper system to overcome their league worst Penalty Kill. With our fingers crossed and our hopes high, Panther fans wished that this year’s PK would not be as painful as last years. But unfortunately, even with a brand new team and fresh new line up, we were shafted once again from the successful PK unit we were longing for (currently in 24th). Which brings me to me to this: When you think of teams with great success, whether you despise them or not, the Pittsburgh Penguins should ALWAYS be near the top of everyone’s list. Well, when I think of individual success, I think of Jordan Staal. He may not be the flashiest of players or have the skill level of teammates Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, but he sure is one of the most important assets to that team, and it all begins with his two-way ability. The “Iron Man” stands 6’4 and 220 pounds and has the arm length of two NHL players as he can intercept a pass more often than a team can make one. His defensive ability shows in his amounts of career short-handed goals (11). He has taken a team who was particularly not the best on the Penalty kill his first two seasons, and since then has boosted them up to fall no further than 9th place the last four seasons, (they were in first place last season). He is a dependable player who leads his team with 25 takeaways and averages 2:47 minutes of short-handed ice-time. He was a Selke Nominee alongside Pavel Datsyuk and Ryan Kesler in 2010, and recorded 7 Short-handed goals in his rookie season. So with all that being said, I think it’s pretty clear why the Florida Panthers could use a player like Jordan Staal.
With Roberto Luongo signing a ridiculous 64 million dollar-12-year extension in September of 2009, this pretty much guaranteed that he would be the Vancouver Canucks goaltender until he’s well into his 40’s. Now whether or not he will be the “starting goaltender” is solely up to him. I say this mainly because of the competition he’s up against with 26-year-old back-up Cory Schneider and the possible bright future that lies ahead of him. Schneider has proved himself not only as a worthy back-up goaltender, but also as a possible candidate for the role as a starting-goaltender. And I DON’T mean for the Canucks either. This season alone, Cory is listed as playing 19 games and recording an impressive 92.7 save percentage, along with 2 shutouts and a 2.30 Goals Against Average. And at the end of the season, he becomes a restricted Free Agent. Now it’s up to the Canucks to figure out what they’re going to do with him, whether it’s to re-sign him, or let him branch out on his own and prove he’s worthy of a starting position elsewhere. (Because let’s face it, there is NO WAY they’re going to let a guy who makes close to 7 Million a year just rot on the bench as a back-up.) Which brings me to my next thought and why Cory Schneider would be a solid pick-up for the Florida Panthers Hockey Club. With “goaltender” of the future, Jacob Markstrom having reoccurring knee injuries, and Scott Clemmensen becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer, there is NO telling what NEW dilemma may unfold with our goalies next season. Personally, I wouldn’t mind pulling a Trevor Kidd/Roberto Luongo duo, circa 2001, and having both Jose Theodore and Cory Schneider as split starting-goaltenders. Talk about an unbelievable tandem between the pipes.
We’d love to hear feedback on who you feel would be an excellent fit on the Florida Panthers roster. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comment box below!
Thanks for reading! Any and all comments are greatly appreciated.
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