Florida Panthers should not bring back Erik Gudbranson

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 07: Erik Gudbranson
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 07: Erik Gudbranson /

During the off-season of 2016, Florida Panthers defenseman and fan favorite Erik Gudbranson was traded to the Vancouver Canucks for Jared McCann and draft picks. There has been rumors about a Gudbranson reunion with Florida.

Erik Gudbranson is a bruising physical player who would make the highlight reel with his WWE type hits (only these are real). Erik, picked 3rd overall in 2010 might be considered a draft bust, since his scoring output hasn’t been at the level of where he was picked. Nonetheless, he made up for it with his size and leadership.

He is most remembered here in Florida for stepping up for Aaron Ekblad. After Matt Hendricks was suspended 3 games for boarding Aaron (which he claimed was in retaliation for a huge hit Erik had laid on Oilers star Taylor Hall). In Matt’s first game back, he was in South Florida. On his first shift, the fan base let him have it and then Erik destroyed him, in which was his best fight as a Panther.

However, when the analytical team came in, his analytics were horrible. He was shipped out to Vancouver in exchange for Jared McCann and draft picks. The picks turned into Adam Mascherin and Jonathan Ang.

The loss of Gudbranson’s physicality was noticed in 2016-17. The Cats weren’t playing well in the defensive zone and they were allowing a lot of soft goals. The team also had the defensive wall fall quickly.

Recently, a rumor has been floating around that Panther reinstated GM Dale Tallon tried to trade Jason Demers for Gudbranson. The Canucks approved, however, Demers nixed it with his Modified No-Trade Clause.

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While, I would love to see Erik in a Panthers jersey again, I don’t think the time is right. I’d like to give Bob Boughner a chance to work with the defense and try to improve it. The defensive pipeline is very crowded with Mackenzie Weegar and Ian McCoshen. These two could possibly join Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle, Jason Demers, Mark Pysyk, Michael Matheson and Alex Petrovic in a crowded pro defense.

In the system, Josh Brown, Linus Hultstrom and Michael Downing all continue to make strides to the pros. While Erik is a great leader and teammate, the defense is too crowded, with limited space. The Panthers need to focus on adding wingers. Not defenseman.

All in all, I doubt Erik will return to Sunrise. At least, anytime soon.