There are always certain times when teams will go out and try to gain a certain players services. Whether it’s on the trade deadline, draft day or free agency, teams are also out trying to find a way to make their team better than it already is. Last season right before the trade deadline struck, the Florida Panthers went out and traded for forwards Wojtek Wolski and Jerred Smithson. The year before that, the Panthers made a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks on draft day sending Rostislav Olesz to Chicago for All-Star Brian Campbell. And I really don’t think I need to get started on what the Panthers did prior to last season during free agency.
It is without question that the Panthers have done a great job acquiring and signing different players in the league. Their commitment to winning showed off last season as the team was able to make it back into the postseason, while securing their first division title.
While the Panthers are a much improved team from previous seasons, there is still work to be done. Yes, the Panthers did go out and sign a couple of players this offseason with the expectation that they will fit right in with the team and help us continue being successful. Although I’m sure the players signed in the offseason will help us improve both offensively and defensively, there are still some holes that could affect this team down the road.
This article that I am writing is to explain who the one player in the league that I would want the Panthers to acquire. No, it’s not Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin and its not even Steven Stamkos. While most of you are probably going to be shocked at my selection, I believe this player would significantly improve our team. Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, the player that I am going to say is not on the Panthers radar, there are NO trade possibilities for this player, just clarifying so no rumors are started; it is just the one player that I would like to see in a Panthers uniform.
Now that that is all cleared up, the player that I would most want to see in a Panthers uniform is, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Yes, you read that correctly, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the player that I would want to see most on the Panthers and I’ll explain why.
The Panthers need help offensively, it’s obvious. Even though they were able to make the playoffs, last season the Panthers finished 27th in the league in goals scored per game. Coming into this season, the only real added offensive threat has been Peter Mueller and he is a huge question mark due to injury issues. Not only has there not been done much offensively to this team, but the Panthers also lost their leading goal scorer defensively, Jason Garrison. My biggest fear with this team coming into next season is still their offense. After the first line offensively there aren’t exactly many threats to score goals. Although he was just a rookie last season, Nugent-Hopkins was third on the Edmonton Oilers in total points scored. After putting on an impressive display of speed, quickness and ability to score, it wasn’t a surprise to anyone that Hopkins was nominated for the Calder Memorial Trophy (rookie of the year award). Despite not winning the award, Hopkins future is as bright as anyone’s in the entire league.
You might be asking yourself why not an offensive superstar such as Crosby or Ovechkin? Well for one, have you seen their contracts? Ovechkin signed an extension after his rookie season worth $124 million and just over a month ago Crosby signed an extension for $104.4 million. Oh and if you take the years on the contracts and add them together, you would get 25 years. No thanks, not only would we have to give up basically every threat on this team now, but the Panthers would also be taking in either a 12 year contract (Crosby) or a 13 year contract (Ovechkin). Those contracts are never a good thing and in almost every case it favors the players. I’d much rather the Panthers take all that money that could go to those players and spread it out over multiple players.
Ok, if not a superstar, why not a goaltender or a defensive player? The answer to that is simple; we don’t need a goalie or another defensive player. For the past couple of years, the Panthers have been developing young goaltender Jacob Markstrom in the AHL. If the Panthers go out and get a big time goalie such as Roberto Luongo, they would again be taking in an unnecessary contract and at the same time they would be giving up on their project goalie that hasn’t even played in ten NHL games. That’s not the only reason a goalie didn’t wasn’t selected. We currently have Jose Theodore. Yes, Theodore isn’t the best goaltender in the world, there is no denying that. But Theodore was good enough to help the Panthers make the playoffs last year and you can be sure that he will be again this year and he will be good enough for the Panthers until Markstrom takes over which should be after this season. Oh and the NHL is a business, and at a cheap 1.5 million dollars, Theo is the best business choice as well.
Defensively the Panthers are pretty much set for both now and the future. For now we have veterans such as Brian Campbell and Ed Jovanovski. To go along with the old vets are young guys Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov. At the moment, there is no need to go out and get a big name defender. What the Panthers are doing is working. Patiently waiting for their players to mature and grow. If they go out and get a big time defender, the growing process of the younger guys could be affected and not in a positive way.
Hopkins isn’t the best player in the league, he might not even be in the top 20, but he is also a 19 year old stud who is just completing his rookie season. Last year for the Panthers the leading scorer was Tomas Fleischmann. In a total of 82 games Flesichmann scored 61 points. Hopkins missed the first 20 games last season, playing in 62 games. In those 62 games he scored 52 points, 9 less than Flesichmann. If Hopkins played those extra 20 games we could have easily seen his point total in the low to mid 70’s. The Oilers are lucky that they have Hopkins. He is a real threat to score the puck at any time and he is also a great skater and not only can he score the puck, but he is also great at getting the puck to other players and giving them an opportunity to score. What fan wouldn’t want a 19 year old player who can do that?
Once again, just to clarify things, this is the one player in the league that I would want the Panthers to get, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.
Thanks For Reading!
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Tags: Alex Ovechkin Brian Campbell Calder Memorial Trophy Chicago Blackhawks Dmitry Kulikov Ed Jovanovski Edmonton Oilers Erik Gudbranson Florida Panthers Jason Garrison Jerred Smithson Nhl Peter Mueller Roberto Luongo Rostislav Olesz Ryan Nugent-hopkins Sidney Crosby Steven Stamkos Tomas Fleischmann Wojtek Wolski