Florida Panthers Must Conclude the Mark Pysyk Forward Experiment

Recently, with the inconsistency of the Florida Panthers offensively, bench boss Joel Quenneville has had to make numerous questionable decisions to improve the team’s play.

The most controversial decision is undoubtedly playing defensive defenseman Mark Pysyk as a bottom-six forward for the team’s past two games.

Surprisingly, as opposed to playing Henrik Borgstrom or Jayce Hawryluk on the bottom six, Joel Quenneville healthy scratched the latter in favor of Mark Pysyk. Essentially, this bold move by Coach Q has simply not worked out for all parties involved.

To start, by healthy scratching promising forwards like Hawryluk and Borgstrom, Quenneville is indirectly hurting their confidence and development with the Florida Panthers.

In fact, Borgstrom, who was a healthy scratch in four of the previous five games, was recently demoted to the American Hockey League to play for the Springfield Thunderbirds.

Quite frankly, despite picking up three out of the possible four points in the games Pysyk played as forward, the defenseman did absolutely nothing while receiving minutes on the bottom six.

Pysyk possesses limited to no talents on the offensive side of the ice, and should not be placed in a position to fail by playing forward.

To rectify the situation, the Panthers should insert Hawryluk to the third line. Therefore, Mark Pysyk could remain as the team’s seventh defenseman in case of potential injury of poor performances from Josh Brown.

By essentially placing Mark Pysyk on the bottom two lines as a winger, the Cats are diminishing Pysyk’s trade value and impact.

Pysyk, who is in the final year of a three-year deal, has been involved in trade rumors before the season started. However, teams are solely interested in Pysyk for his abilities as a defenseman, not as a bottom-six winger.

The Panthers should immediately conclude the Mark Pysyk forward experiment. Considering Josh Brown has performed rather egregiously to start the season, Coach Q should provide Mark Pysyk with a shot on the third pairing alongside the defensively challenged Keith Yandle.

With Jayce Hawryluk re-entering the lineup, along with Mark Pysyk replacing Josh Brown on the third pair, the Cats will certainly strengthen their chances of success, both offensively and defensively.

Hawryluk, or any forward, is superior to Mark Pysyk in terms of producing offense and points as a forward. Meanwhile, Pysyk is superior to Josh Brown in regards to playing a reliable defensive game.

As well, with the addition of the newly signed Brian Boyle, there is absolutely no need for Mark Pysyk to continue to play as a forward. The Panthers have numerous other options who would be more suitable on the bottom six than Pysyk.

In essence, Coach Quenneville should unequivocally end the Mark Pysyk forward experiment. With the Panthers returning home to play against the talented Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida will require more firepower on the offensive side of the ice. Jayce Hawryluk, a speedy young winger, should make his return to the lineup in favor of Mark Pysyk on the team’s third line versus the Pens.