During the last offseason following the departure of Willie Mitchell, the Florida Panthers needed to make a decision on the next captain. Many good cases were made to name one of the young guys like Aaron Ekblad or Jonathan Huberdeau. In the end, the Cats would call on respectable veteran Derek MacKenzie to dawn the “C” for the 2016-17 campaign.
D-Mac is by all means a great voice in the locker room and penalty killer, we can all understand why he was given the reins. However, with the Panthers signing good young talent long term is it time to make a change in the way they choose their captain?
Taking a look back, the team has lacked a solid captain since Olli Jokinen, who held the position from 03-08. Since then, it’s been either veteran defensemen on short stays with the team or the aforementioned MacKenzie.
Ed Jovanovski (2012-14) and Bryan McCabe (2009-11) both wore the “C” for parts of 2 seasons with the team. Willie Mitchell then followed suit from 2014-16. Seems how he still has a year remaining on his current contract, the trend may continue with Derek MacKenzie.
None of us really know the true nature of the Panthers locker room or how the captain affects the product on the ice. Either way, it should be definitely be a trend the team and front office want to turn around.
Trocheck has really made a name for himself by stepping up in times of need the last two seasons. All while putting up 48 goals and 59 assists and making his first trip to the all star game this season. He’s proven to be a great leader, especially in the absence of Aleksander Barkov.
Despite a poor campaign, Ekblad is still the Panthers number one defenseman for now and years to come. He’s flown under the wings of vets like Brian Campbell and Willie Mitchell, gaining as much knowledge as possible.
He’s showed great poise and maturity since his first season in the league and will only become wiser. Already boasting a great hockey IQ, Ekblad seems to be a likely candidate for the next Panthers captain.
The longest tenured Florida Panther happens to be my personal favorite to be the next captain. Jonathan Huberdeau, bread to the metaphorical PB&J that is the Florida Panthers first line.
Huby has grown to be a true pro and having been through many highs and lows with the team, he offers good experience on top of being a great locker room presence. This season also showed how crucial he is to the Panthers success.
We’ll cover this matter more as the season approaches but one things for sure. The Panthers should think about selecting a long term captain sooner rather than later.