Micheal Haley may have just joined the Florida Panthers recently, but that doesn’t mean he should be a lock on the fourth line.
Many hold the same opinion as I do with regards to Micheal Haley. He just doesn’t cut it on the Panthers’ 4th line, nor does he match up well against other fourth liners. Haley, who is 32 years of age, just completed his first season as a Florida Panther.
In 75 games played, the Canadian-born forward recorded 3G, 6A, and 9 points. To begin, 75 games is way too many for a player of Haley’s caliber. At most should he be seeing 30 games (and that’s being generous!).
Furthermore, his role, which is to fight opposing players, just isn’t needed in this new era of hockey. The game has changed as you know, fights are occurring less and less as the time goes on, which means that the need for enforcers isn’t really there.
Haley, who led the league in penalty minutes, had a reputation of dropping the gloves early. Micheal wasn’t afraid to drop his mitts in the opening 10 minutes of a hockey game, going after anyone ranging from his size or taller.
While he wasn’t afraid to stick up for his teammates, he wasn’t exactly the best fighter either. It’d be a bit of a stretch to say that Haley lost every fight he took part in, but by no means did he win more than he lost. Some of the fights that he took part in were senseless, leaving you to wonder whether there was any purpose behind his decision.
But that’s not my main problem with Micheal Haley. My main issue is the fact that he’s taking a valuable spot away from a younger, more skillful player. As I mentioned earlier, with the league transitioning into a more speedy and skillful game, the need for Micheal Haley’s just isn’t there.
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Wouldn’t it be nice if we could transform the fourth line into more of a cycling/speedster line? A line where you can see the forwards press harder, retain more puck possession, and create more scoring chances in the slot. I know I’d love to see that, wouldn’t you?
Additionally, for those of you worried about the ‘experience factor,’ just remember the Panthers have Colton Sceviour, who yes, may be three years younger than Haley, but has featured in more regular season games (326 to Haley’s 205) and playoff games (17 to Haley’s 2).
Sceviour, who is younger, is no doubt the superior hockey player to Micheal Haley. Sceviour embodies what the Florida Panthers’ fourth line should look like, which entails speed, hustle, and enough skill to put the puck in the back of the net.
With Haley, you get none of the aforementioned qualities in him, as he’s purely not skilled enough to possess those attributes. With Sceviour however, you’re not only getting a guy who can pot 11 goals in a season, but you’re also getting a reliable fourth line player who can log crucial penalty killing minutes (something Haley can’t do).
For the sake of next season, the Florida Panthers should at least consider either buying Haley out or moving him via trade. With one year left on his contract at $825K annually, buying him out wouldn’t be costly.
According to CapFriendly, it’ll only cost the Cats $566,667 total ($283,333/annually over two years) to buy-out the 32-year-old. The other obvious alternative would be to find a trade partner, which could be a mission. It’s unlikely that anyone would want to acquire Haley’s services, considering his age, production, and limited skillset.
As much as most would like to see Haley gone, I’d find it surprising to see Tallon and co. part ways with Micheal so quickly. Haley is a player who is adored by Boughner and the rest of the coaching staff, which gives you the impression that he’s an untouchable piece. Either way, if the Panthers are serious about improving their bottom six, then they need to start with moving on from Micheal Haley.