Florida Panthers: significance of a healthy Alex Petrovic

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 02: Alex Petrovic
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 02: Alex Petrovic /

After an injury-riddled 2016-17 season, Alex Petrovic hopes to build off past success entering the 2017-18 campaign under new defensive-minded head coach Bob Boughner .

Alex Petrovic is a bruising, talented two-way defender that is efficient on both ends of the ice, contributing offensively and defensively when in the lineup. He is well known for his heroic series tying goal in game 4 in the 1st round of the 2016 playoffs. An incredible, dazzling effort by Petrovic led to the game decisive goal against the New York Islanders in the infamous game 4 in Brooklyn where the Florida Panthers won 2-1 in a goalie duel.

However, a series of unfortunate injuries caused the 25-year-old to miss a total of 33 games this past season in a year which saw the Cats struggle defensively. The presence of Petro was clearly missed as the Cats attempted to temporarily replace him with an insufficient and unproductive defenseman in Jakub Kindl.

In the 49 games Alex participated in, he contributed 1G and 13A, tallying 14 points all together. He has incredible passing ability as he possesses miraculous vision often setting up the forwards with tremendous scoring opportunities. Although his amount of points decreased by 3, his points per game percentage jolted from .25 to .29 in a span of one year.

He is continuing to improve offensively which is a great sign for the Florida Panthers who are in search of making the playoffs. Alex has a remarkable shot which he occasionally utilizes when attempting to create scoring chances. Boughner will influence Petro in a positive way in a sense that he’ll receive greater productivity from him.

The one aspect of Alex’s game that the Cats will welcome back the most is his defensive prowess. His physicality was certainly missed while nursing injuries this past season as the Panthers never quite recovered from losing their most physical, hard-hitting defenseman in Petrovic. The Cats surrendered more goals and power play chances to the opposition when Petro was not on the ice which seemingly translates to inevitably defeat.

He produced a powerful 106 hits and an impactful 55 blocked shots while playing an average of 18:09 on the ice. His ATOI has continuously increased since cracking the Cats lineup during the 2012-13 season. The former 36th overall selection back in 2010 is looking to make a greater impact as he’s entering his 6th season as a member of the Cats.

The 2017-18 season will be critically important for him due to the fact that he’s in a contract year hoping to eventually strike a larger deal. If he is able to stay healthy and perform as expected, then Dale Tallon will undoubtedly reward Petro’s value and with a nice little contract. However, staying healthy is easier said than done.

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He is an injury-plagued player that has essentially never had the opportunity to experience an entire season of action under his belt. Due to the unfortunate injury bug that continues to haunt Petro, his career high in games played is 66 in 2015-16 where he registered 17 points.

The Panthers are searching for a revitalized, resurgent Alex Petrovic as Bob Boughner embarks on his journey to leading the Cats to success. Boughner will heavily count on Petro to help provide stability to the blue line alongside trustworthy partner Mark Pysyk.

Alex is a courageous defender who is admired by his teammates, coaching staff, fans, management and ownership due to his willingness to drop the gloves when necessary and provide protection for our core players. Petro is an intimidating d-man in modern day hockey as he’s unafraid to defend opposing star forwards launching an abundance of painful hits with his humongous body.

Alex is hoping to continue his promising strides of turning into one of Florida’s most reliable defenders in a vital contract year for the young, unproven d-man.