One thing overvalued when a team is going through the rebuilding stage that the Florida Panthers are enduring currently is locking into one specific ‘need’.
When you are a perennial contender, or a team a piece or two away from reaching the next level, you can create a specialized ‘wish list’ for the offseason. So to say that a ‘scoring winger’ or a top four defender are needs for Florida is an understatement.
The team finished 29th in both goals and goals against per game last season, so specific needs shouldn’t be so narrowed in as plain and simple – offense is offense and defense is defense, no matter where it comes from.
When your team was as bad as Florida was last year – when the opportunity presents itself to get better – you take it. Don’t say ‘we have two centers already, we don’t need another’. Think like that, you can miss out on a player that could have made the difference in contending or falling flat back into a rebuild.
Again, a team like the St. Louis Blues can say they need ‘scoring depth on the wing’ or another center because they may feel that they are that missing piece from solidifying themselves as Cup contenders.
Florida’s problems are bigger than that; they need depth, a lot of it – period.
The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup led by a trio of centers selected in three consecutive drafts. The third player could have been most team’s second line center, and at the time could have been the top center on a few teams as well.
Their downfall was a combination of giving up too many prime draft picks for aging players and concentrating so much money into such a few ‘core’ players.
So when a potential deal appears to be in place that can add multiple pieces to your organization – don’t hesitate because of the ‘position’ they might play. They have already made it known that some players will be moving from center to the wing, this would just further this.
There is also never a guarantee that a player will work out just as you imagined. For as good a start to their careers that Nick Bjugstad and Aleksander Barkov have had, there is a chance their career arrow levels out quicker than it rises – so having as many options as possible is critical.
The third center for the Penguins, Jordan Staal, sill averaged right at 20 minutes of ice-time a game during the regular and post season. You can always find a way to get your playmakers on the ice, especially when that player would have been your leading scorer by a margin of 12-points last season.
Just put the talent on the same roster, put it on ice, and let all the pieces fall into place.