As the offseason rolls along, we continue to look at the season that Florida Panthers players have had. It’s Ian McCoshen’s turn today!
Before the 2017-18 season started, it was pretty clear that Ian McCoshen would make the team and compete to become a full-time starter on the defensive unit for the Panthers. When Florida called him up during the end of the 2016-17 campaign, it was obvious that McCoshen was ready to become a regular defender for the Cats.
In just three games, Ian showed the Panthers organization that he would be ready to embrace the difficulty of the NHL, and play full-time during the 2017-18 season.
In training camp and preseason both McCoshen and fellow AHL graduate, MacKenzie Weegar battled it out to be the 6th defenseman on opening night. Since the Panthers already had 5 experienced defensemen, they were looking to either McCoshen or Weegar to fill that final spot. It was going to be a tight race to the finish line to see who would get the majority of the playing time throughout the season.
Because McCoshen had been drafted in the 2nd round, many expected McCoshen to easily take that spot from Weegar. Since MacKenzie had been selected all the way back in the 7th round, many fans didn’t know about his game and assumed that he would be the 7th defenseman on the roster. Though both were equally impressive in training camp and preseason, it was no surprise that McCoshen won the 6th and final D spot.
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When the Cats suited up for their season opener on October 6th, it became official that McCoshen had won the spot and it was his to lose. Over the first few games, McCoshen was pretty solid. He even scored his first career goal in the 3rd game of the season, showcasing some of his best offensive ability.
Although McCoshen was playing decently in his first few games, the Panthers’ coaching staff decided that it was time to give Weegar a shot in the lineup. Unfortunately for McCoshen, the Panthers really liked Weegar’s game.
In the beginning stages of the season, the coaching staff did a very good job of rotating pretty evenly between both McCoshen and Weegar. The two brought something different. McCoshen was a more of a shut-down defender while Weegar played a more two-way style of game.
Eventually, as the season continued on, Ian’s game appearances started dwindling, and Weegar’s game appearances continued to climb. It wasn’t that McCoshen was playing bad when he was on the ice, but it was more that the Panthers needed Weegar’s offensive playmaking ability on the ice due to the fact that they struggled with offensive production.
By the time the season ended, McCoshen had taken part in 38 games, finished with 4 points, and his plus/minus sat at -10. On the other hand, Weegar played 60 games, finishing with 8 points, and recorded a plus/minus of +5.
It was pretty clear that Weegar had a better season compared to McCoshen, but this doesn’t mean that McCoshen should be reduced to just a 7th defensive role. He still has the ability to turn into a quality shutdown defenseman. Because we only saw a sample size of McCoshen’s abilities on the ice, it’s very difficult to predict how he will eventually turn out.
From what I’ve seen on the ice, McCoshen draws similarities to the game of Eric Gryba’s of the New Jersey Devils. Not only do they have nearly the same physical attributes, but from what we’ve seen so far, McCoshen plays a similar defensive game in comparison to Gryba.
It’ll be interesting to see what McCoshen’s role will be with the Panthers next year. At the moment, it looks very unlikely that McCoshen will be the season-opening 6th defenseman for the Cats. Regardless, it should be fun to see what Ian McCoshen will bring next season.