The Florida Panthers promised to be busy during free agency and they kept their promise as they added 6 players to the roster. The players included Willie Mitchell, Al Montoya, Shawn Thornton, Jussi Jokinen, Derek MacKenzie and Dave Bolland. These players bring in a nice combo of skill, toughness, veteran leadership and playoff experience that will be very valuable to our young team. Signing these guys also adds depth that will allow the younger players like, Vincent Trocheck and Quinton Howden to fine-tune their skills further before making the jump to the big club. Lets take a look at each of the signings individually and grade them. Today we look at the Columbus fan favorite, Derek MacKenzie.
Derek MacKenzie – 3 year contract worth $3.9 million – Grade B
- The signing of MacKenzie to a contract that pays him $1.3 million is an absolute bargain and its somewhat suprising that the Columbus Blue Jackets didn’t re-sign him for the price as he was a valuable piece to that team. He will presumably be placed on the fourth line and along with the addition of enforcer Shawn Thornton it looks as if the Panthers have an excellent fourth line to work with. MacKenzie is known as a defensive forward who can do anything from killing penalties to win important face-offs. The one stat that really jumped out to me is that he had 241 hits which is well beyond what anyone on the Panthers had last year. Him and Shawn Thornton are going to lay the hurt on a lot of players this season. He is also good at winning face-offs as he posted a .515 win percentage in the circle. The only downside to this contract is the length of the contract at three years. We are extremely deep at center and this signing makes me wonder if prospects such as Drew Shore and Vincent Trochek are going to have to be moved to the wing to be able crack the roster in the future. However, this signing allows for those players to further develop their games so in the long run this may be beneficial. All in all, MacKenzie’s veteran leadership and character will be a welcome addition to this team and I truly think this will be one of the best and most underrated signings.
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