Florida Panthers Extend Qualifying Offers to Ten Players

SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 20: A general view of the video cube and scoreboard prior to the start of the Florida Panthers hosting the Washington Capitals at the BB&T Center on October 20, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 20: A general view of the video cube and scoreboard prior to the start of the Florida Panthers hosting the Washington Capitals at the BB&T Center on October 20, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Yesterday, the Florida Panthers got down to business on the deadline to extend qualifying offers to their own RFAs.

The Florida Panthers extended qualifying offers to ten players. This means the Panthers are given the right of first refusal or draft choice compensation in the event that a player(s) signs an offer sheet with another team.

Here’s the list of ten players the Panthers extended offers to:

ForwardsAnthony Greco, Jayce Hawryluk, Dryden Hunt, Juho Lammikko, Denis Malgin, and Maxim Mamin.

DefenseIan McCoshen, Thomas Schemitsch, and MacKenzie Weegar.

Goalie: Sam Montembeault

Headlining the list is none other than MacKenzie Weegar who played in the highest amount of games between the pack, last season. Weegar participated in 64 outings, recording 4G, 11A, and 15 points. All three of those figures were career highs for the 25-year-old.

The native of Ottawa, Ontario has smoothly progressed in each passing campaign. During a portion of the 2018-19 season, Weegar was even promoted to the second pair, playing alongside Keith Yandle for a few games.

While he’s only viewed as a bottom-pairing defenseman currently, Weegar still brings value and a much-needed presence on the Panthers’ blue line. Extending a qualifying offer so he can remain in Sunrise, Florida for another season (if he accepts) is a no brainer to me.

Jayce Hawryluk took part in his first set of games this past season. The former second-round draft pick featured in 42 games, tallying 7G, 5A, and 12 points. He primarily appeared on the fourth line, helping kick-start it while providing a solid presence.

At times, he was even showcased on the second line, playing alongside the likes of Mike Hoffman. In part, that helped him up his point tally, but his reliable play on the bottom line cannot go unnoticed.

With a full season under his belt this year, Jayce Hawryluk will not only receive more experience, but he will provide more production on the bottom two lines where he’s expected to play. Like Weegar, the Panthers need him to perform his role in the bottom six which has struggled for years.

Juho Lammikko only mustered 6 points (6 assists) across 40 games this past season; however, his game (away from the stat sheet) showed some promise during that span.

By no means is Lammikko the flashiest of players, but he sticks to what he knows well. He gets in on the forecheck and digs for loose pucks in the corners. He’s someone who can eat the clock and even kill penalties if you need him to.

The Panthers, who are attempting to restructure their bottom line to improve it, could use a guy of Lammikko’s caliber – even if it’s just for call-up purposes. For me, extending a qualifying offer only makes sense, considering how cheap he would come.

You can never have enough depth, especially on your bottom two lines. This Panthers team cannot afford to be picky and selective with their bottom-six choices; Juho Lammikko is cheap, reliable, and serviceable. What could possibly go wrong? Extending an offer is the right thing to do in this situation, in my honest opinion.

Finally, Sam Montembeault, who finally saw the NHL cage for the first time in his career, appeared in 11 matches. The sample size may seem small, but the games he played in actually felt big.

Taking into account the predicament the team was in at that time, Montembeault handled himself well while stepping in. His stats were definitely a little underwhelming (.894 SV% & 3.04 GAA), but barring a couple of games that were blowouts and out of his hands, his numbers would’ve been better.

Regardless, he showed calmness and composure which is rare for someone his age, while also displaying a few game-changing saves that dictated the outcome of some games.

Heading into the future with a possible free-agent signing as the new No. 1 and with the recent selection of Spencer Knight in the first round, Montembeault’s future may look a little uncertain.

It’s worth noting that he’s still young and could really benefit from spending an extra few seasons in the minors with Springfield (AHL) – a league and team he feels most comfortable playing in.

Extending an offer to a goalie who’s young and has shown promise is another no brainer, despite what unfolds in the next few days and years. With Roberto Luongo recently announcing his retirement, there could be a chance that Sam Montembeault starts as the backup next season if the Panthers find a way to unload James Reimer.

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All ten of those players listed above deserved to have qualifying offers extended to them. It’s up to all of them on whether they will accept them or not, but I’m almost certain they will all agree to something with the Panthers in some capacity.