After depth was added to the Florida Panthers roster, forward Derek MacKenzie should receive less playing time this season.
He’s always been that center that’s full of grit and determination. This has always been a need for the Cats, but now as time has passed and bodies have been added, it may be time to cut D-Mac’s playing time.
MacKenzie has always been the fourth line center that puts the squad together, possibly a big reason why he’s the captain. Even though he’s been such an essential piece to the squad in the role he plays, it may be time for a change. There are a few reasons that help explain why this veteran forward needs to be replaced.
To start, the 37-year-old has started to degrade when it comes to the statistics of his play. This can be shown when it comes to his offensive skill.
Since his arrival to the Panthers, MacKenzie has always bagged around 5 or 6 goals annually. Last season, his tally dropped to just 3. This is just one of many offensive stats that help show his regression.
When it comes to defense, the stats get even worse. While takeaways and other defensive stats can show this kind of information, it’s the faceoff stat that stands out the most.
According to puckbase.com, MacKenzie’s faceoff win stat was at an all-time low with the Panthers. This past season he only had 315 faceoff wins, while the previous season (2016-17) his figure was at 386. This one stat along with many others has shown how D-Mac has regressed.
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Although, something that isn’t MacKenzie’s fault is the improved forward depth on the Panthers roster. In the past, Derek has been one of the few forwards to display that grittiness and hunger that molded the entire team together. However, as the years have gone by, the Panthers have brought in and drafted some younger and more skillful players, meaning that MacKenzie’s spot can definitely be filled from a more talented player.
Realistically, that spot can potentially be filled by a rising young forward known as Jared McCann. After being acquired in a trade a few seasons ago and spending a few years with the Panthers, McCann may have found a different role in the squad.
While he’s always been that skilled, speedy center that puts up the occasional points, it may be time for him to fulfill the role of becoming a two-way centerman on the Panthers’ fourth line.
Besides, if Boughner decides that Henrik Borgstrom will be deployed as a center, it’s very likely that he could take McCann’s spot on the third line, meaning that McCann would ultimately get demoted down to the fourth. Having Henrik and Jared as third and fourth line centers would perfectly round out the Panthers’ center chart.
McCann can easily take Mackenzie’s spot as the team’s fourth line center seeing he’s proven to be capable of that role. Last season, he showed a different side to his game and displayed tremendous growth towards his work ethic that was never seen before. One example of this is his brief showing on the penalty kill last season, proving he can fit right into that role.
Lastly, MacKenzie’s playing time should be cut because of the state of his captaincy. While he’s served as captain for the past few seasons, many argue that it’s time to nominate a new one. Some of the candidates include Vincent Trocheck, Aaron Ekblad, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Aleksander Barkov.
If MacKenzie doesn’t play as much, it really sends a sign that he shouldn’t have the ‘C.’ Think, you want your captain playing night in and night out, and if D-Mac isn’t amongst those guys, then the Panthers should consider stripping the captaincy and placing it onto another player’s uniform.
If they decide to head towards that route, they’re ultimately killing two birds with one stone, once again proving how much it makes sense to cut his playing time and limit his role.
After a couple of good seasons with the Cats, it’s time to cut captain Derek MacKenzie’s playing time and move onto the next one in line.