You’d have to be out of the loop this summer to not know Jason Demers of the Florida Panthers is on the trade block.
The right shot defense market was on fire one year ago. The Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall swap seemed “ludicrous” at the time to casual hockey observer’s. One short year later, many hockey fans are singing a different tune on that same trade.
It’s hard to argue against the market value of a top four right-handed defenseman. Right-handed blue liners like PK Subban and Shea Weber, who were dealt for each other last summer, or names such as Tyson Barrie and Justin Faulk which clubs are currently salivating to get their hands on to be their power-play quarterback.
Demers’ numbers on paper last year were decent, outside of a -14 rating that was more of a reflection on the team:
16/17 season: 81GP, 9 Goals, 19 Assists, 28 Points , 19:37 Time On Ice
He eclipsed his career average of 18:52 TOI, and showcased a career best 9.2 shooting percentage this past season.
However, Demers first year with the Panthers showed some of the warts in his game, especially in his own zone: failing to separate man from puck, losing coverage on his man/area in front of the net and making questionable reads to get the puck out of his own zone. Those reasons are why Jason needs to be a second-pairing guy, and not pushed up to a larger role.
So what trade value does Demers hold? Maybe a current NHL roster player. A draft pick or B’ grade prospect. [It could also be a trade where the Panthers simply retain zero dollars on Demers contract that ends in 2020-21]
Toronto Maple Leafs: They want a second pairing RHD partner for Jake Gardiner. The Panthers price might be a young roster player in return. The Leafs could then ask the Panthers to retain money on Demers contract due to being pressed up against the cap.
Vegas Golden Knights: They’re in need of a top four RHD. The Golden Knights could be a good trade partner since they have multiple draft picks in 2019 and 2020. They also have over $8 million in cap space.
New Jersey Devils: A second pairing rearguard is a priority, $20 million cap space and own all their future draft picks.
Edmonton Oilers: They are looking for a quality veteran RHD since their younger prospects are not quite ready for prime minutes yet. However, the Oilers may ask the Panthers to retain money in return for a draft pick and/or prospect
Montreal Canadiens: A dark horse suitor looking to further bolster a playoff lineup. A lot of money already invested into the blue line; but the Habs might be keen to bring a Dorval, Quebec resident home.
Vancouver Canucks: What are they doing? Tell the rest of us please.
With three to four Panthers blue line prospects knocking on the door for bottom six minutes, along with three other right shot defensemen on the current roster (Aaron Ekblad, Alex Petrovic and Mark Pysyk), now is the ideal time for the Panthers to move on from Demers.