Now that the trade deadline has passed and the music has stopped, the Florida Panthers look almost identical to how they did before it.
Derick Brassard was shipped out for a third-round pick in 2020, spare parts were exchanged for other spare parts, and the team took a few fliers on AHL forwards.
What should’ve been a playoff team this season is what the Panthers have more often than not become: an 80-85 point team that’s not quite bad enough to get game changers at the top of the draft, but not good enough to make the postseason.
Nothing they did at the deadline changed that. There were rumors of bigger deals to be made, but none materialized. The final 22 games will go on as the first 62 did; mediocre 5v5 play, good special teams, and less than stellar goaltending.
They ended up getting four draft picks plus a bottom-six forward in that deal, which isn’t a stellar return but did give the Panthers cap space for a summer in which they are going to make a play for free agency’s biggest fish.
Derick Brassard’s value only took a hit in Florida, and to get anything for him is a bonus. Somehow, they were able to offload Bogdan Kiselevich and Chris Wideman, but Riley Sheahan and Troy Brouwer stayed put.
The club’s biggest needs are in goal, more 5v5 scoring, and a 2/3 defenseman that will also have to be addressed at that time.
Whether they can address those needs sufficiently will determine what kind of team they’ll be in the years ahead, where the only option is contention, and not just for the playoffs.
Florida reportedly checked in on Stone, but with no guarantee of an extension, there was no deal to be made.
However, that figure is exactly the same as Nikita Kucherov’s extension with Tampa that kicks in next season and looks to perhaps be the ceiling for a hypothetical Artemi Panarin deal Dale Tallon would certainly be looking into, which now seems more of a certainty than ever with Mark Stone off the board.
Nothing the team did could really bring them out of the messy middle they’re still stuck in, and now the moves to get them out of that morass will have to come in the summer if they are at all, and the smoke surrounding those potential moves is too thick to ignore.
But for now, the 2018-19 Panthers will plod as they have, waiting for another major move to be made after another lost season as the trade deadline that should’ve meant so much more passed without barely a whimper.