And just like that, here we are with the final Florida Panther Player Rating. If the title didn’t already give it away, we saved the best for last.
OK, not really, but there are some good things to say about RW Matt Bradley.
Bradley is probably a guy you’re slightly less familiar with, so let’s start by taking a quick look at his background. He was drafted in 1996 by San Jose in the 4th round (102nd overall). Following his three year stint with the Sharks (during which he never played a full season), he completed the full 82 game go-around with Pittsburgh from 2003-2004 before finding his way to Washington. He spent six seasons with the Caps and then signed with the Panthers as a UFA this past offseason.
He suited up in 45 games this year and averaged 10:52 TOI/G (missed the last 24 games of the regular season due to an upper body injury). Playing primarily on the fourth line, he racked up a mere eight points with three goals and five assists.
While Bradley’s presence wasn’t always felt offensively, he did bring a solid physical game to the ice. Perhaps one of his biggest nights this season was on Oct. 22 against the Islanders when he scored his first goal as a Panther; notched what would become season highs in plus/minus (+2) and shots (4); and, still had time to drop the gloves against Matt Martin.
You can check that scrum out by clicking here (courtesy of hockeyfights.com). With bias, I say Bradley got the best of him, but you can be the judge.
Coincidentally, he had it out for the other New York team on Dec. 30th – a game he approached similarly and further assured fans of his physical role. He logged a season-high nine hits against the Rangers in what resulted in a 4-1 Panthers home loss. And I’ll give you one guess who scored the lone goal for the Cats…
He scored his third and final goal of the season on Feb. 9 against the now-Western Conference Champion Kings. The good: the Cats snuck two past Jonathan Quick (who actually got yanked after two periods)! and scored an empty netter at the end to skate off victoriously 3-1. The bad (for Bradley, anyway): he would only play in six more regular season games after that night.
Bradley is interesting, but he hasn’t made enough of a difference for me to give him a high grade. One thing the Panthers really boasted this year was their depth - finally, they could even say that they had depth - and the impact that was made by players other than the go-to guys everyone expects it from. At times, the second and third lines were contributing on a higher level than the “FlashMob Line,” and for that reason I can’t cut Bradley much slack in his rating.
Season grade: C. If it’s any consolation, the fans love him.
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