For the last few seasons, the Florida Panthers power-play has been not only unreliable, but also inconsistent. The Cats have placed 23rd and 24th overall in power-play percentages in the last two seasons.
Firstly, the Cats don’t really need to go out and get anyone for better power-play numbers, as they signed Keith Yandle last off-season who usually puts up solid numbers and contributes to a great extent on the power-play. It very well could have been a season of adjustments for Yandle though, as he signed a brand new, big contract with a whole new team.
Another reason why the Cats don’t necessarily need to go get someone, whether it be free agency or through trade is Nick Bjugstad. Sure, he hasn’t produced much at all the last few seasons and has been quite injury prone, but it is commonly overlooked that he usually only plays on the third line, due to the Panthers’ extreme depth at center.
Bjugstad is a big guy at 6’6, who would be perfect for screening the goaltender and redirecting those higher shots that smaller guys like Jonathan Marchessault and Vincent Trocheck can’t quite tip cleanly. Too make it even better, Nick has a hell of a shot. A laser if anything.
Obviously, this seems like the recipe for success (on the PP). But this season, it wasn’t. With the head coaching changes came changes in how things like special teams were run, and those changes weren’t particularly good. (Disclaimer: We here at TheRatTrick try our best to avoid bias, but when a coach is as bad as Rowe was, it’s VERY hard to make it look like you’re not being biased.) So with the new coach, will come more power-play success, hopefully. *crosses fingers*
Now, if the Panthers do have to eventually bring in someone from free agency or via trade, there are a few solid options. The first, and probably best option, is Thomas Vanek. As we saw during his short tenure in Sunrise, he did pretty well on the PP, in the few opportunities he was given. So bringing him back would contribute to more power-play success. Though there are a few downsides to this. You can read about the downside of keeping Thomas Vanek through the link above.
A final option could be to bring in Patrick Sharp. Like Vanek, the Panthers were scouting him heavily this past trade deadline. He has had much success on the power-play for, well pretty much, his whole career. While yes, this season was a bit of a down year for Sharp, being traded and playing on a PP unit with Keith Yandle might just spark his production. Now, it should be noted that Sharp might be the most expensive option though, as his previous contract was around $5 million AAV. If Sharp would be open to taking a pay-cut, I personally wouldn’t mind bringing him down to Sunrise, Florida.