The last roster cuts of the preseason were made on Sunday afternoon, with the most notable of the roster omissions being winger Owen Tippett. While controversial, Dale Tallon might have made the right move.
Owen Tippett finished out his preseason with the Florida Panthers having tallied four points in five preseason games. Three of those points were goals, with a three-game scoring streak against Dallas and Tampa Bay twice.
These games were Tippett’s first NHL-level games since 2017 when Tippett debuted for the Panthers. In those games, Tippett scored just one goal and was promptly sent down after just seven games.
Tippett’s game has always been goalscoring, and he certainly did that this September. He followed up his first goal against Dallas with a multi-point game at home in a 6-3 win over Tampa Bay before scoring once more in a 4-2 loss.
Despite the encouragement, Owen Tippett failed to make the opening night roster and will start the season in Springfield (AHL). While some fans were disappointed by these revelations, I think that the decision made was right.
Think of it this way, if Owen Tippett starts the season on the roster, he has a lot of pressure on him to perform. While it may seem as though the Panthers want to play their best players, is Tippett really ready to start?
Starting him in the AHL gives the Panthers the opportunity not just to look at what they have in Tippett, but what they have on the rest of the roster. Giving Tippett game time in the AHL is much more productive to the team than someone like Jayce Hawryluk or Dryden Hunt, who have both played in the AHL before.
Tippett, like Henrik Borgstrom last season, still needs some time to develop his game before truly competing in the NHL.
Similarly to Tippett’s situation, Borgstrom didn’t make last year’s opening night roster after a promising preseason. The fans complained, just like last year, and Borgstrom’s time off seemed to make him better.
Finally, Florida really need to be playing the players they are most comfortable with at the start of the year. The problem with the Panthers in previous seasons have been their starts, and boy have they ever been slow before!
The Panthers typically are very poor during the month of October, and Florida needs to have their most NHL-ready talent going to begin the year.
Tippett showed that he can be a bit of a liability defensively in the NHL, with a -6 plus-minus in the first seven games of his career. His play away from the puck and his positioning in the defensive end still needs polishing before he can be considered an everyday NHLer.
Even at the start of the year, Tippett’s time isn’t a necessity for the Panthers. Letting him develop in the AHL while players on the bottom six earn their spots makes sense. If they struggle, Tippett is always just one spot away. Expect the 21-year-old to receive a call within the first couple of months.