With the 2011-12 season sadly in the rear-view window, it’s once again time for The Rat Trick to take a look back at those who had the biggest impact on the the Florida Panthers. Over the coming days, we’ll look at review everyone who had key roles in the past season and give them the dreaded letter grade.
We’ll start things off with Tomas Fleischmann
Games played: 82
Power Play: 6 goals, 16 assists
Fleischmann came to the Panthers on the team’s amazing July 1 signing spree but he did not come without questions. After playing 45 games with the Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals in 2010-11, Flash was found to have a pulmonaary embolism (blood clots in the lungs), a result of him having a condition called Deep Vein Thrombosis (if you missed it first time around, check out Paige Lewis’s story on his medical hurdles). After doing some homework as to his health, Dale Tallon was confident enough to sign Fleischmann to a 4 year/$18 million dollar contract.
Fleischmann rewarded the Panthers by playing in all 82 games while leading the team in goals and points while teaming with Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg on the team’s top line (aka, the Flashmob line). That line is the chief reason the Panthers were able to get off to a solid start by overwhelmingly carrying the scoring load while the rest their teammates learned to play together. In addition, his play was one of the biggest reasons the Florida power play went from dead last in 2010-11 to 7th this season. His 22 points with the man advantage was the most of any Florida forward, good enough for second on the team behind Brian Campbell.
If there’s a downside to Fleischmann’s game, it would be on the defensive end of the ice. He finished the season as with a -7 rating. And while that stat isn’t the entirely reliable, it’s worth noting that his Flashmob linemates finished with a +5 and a +4 rating. He also didn’t see much time in short-handed situations, averaging eight seconds per game in that situation. If there is one thing you can say, his shortcomings aren’t from laziness of lack of effort.
In the playoffs, he scored three points (1g, 2a) in the seven game series with the New Jersey Devils. If those numbers seem underwhelming, bear in mind that it was reported after the series was over that he played the majority of it with a broken hand. His lone goal came on an empty netter in game 2 that put an exclamation point on Florida’s first playoff win since 1997. His two assists came on a power play unit that converted at a 33.3% rate in the series.
FINAL GRADE: A. Have to admit, this one is a no-brainer. He was the most consistent Panther forward all season long, despite a rough late December/January. He was third on the team with four game-winning goals, none more clutch than his late tally that completed a massive comeback 11/21/11 against the Devils. His contract raised some eyebrows last July, but with his production this season, it seems like an outstanding value, especially in light of some of the contracts signed by other players since. Despite the anticipated of younger talent, you would imagine the Flashmob line would start next season as the team’s top line. Dale Tallon hit a home run with this signing.
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