During the 2019 NHL offseason, General Manager Dale Tallon signed fourth-line centerman Noel Acciari to a three-year contract worth a total of $3.5 million.
The former Bruin was relatively productive during his tenure with the physical Boston Bruins. The Cats lured away Acciari from their division rival in hopes that he would provide instant stability to their bottom-six forward group, particularly the fourth line.
Quite frankly, through the first eighteen games of the 2019-20 season, Noel Acciari as been one of Florida’s most valuable players on their bottom-six unit. The American native has been a stable anchor for the Panthers’ bottom line, performing exceptionally well on both ends of the ice.
While participating in 15 regular-season games, Noel Acciari has already recorded 4 goals while playing a career-high of 15:19 per game. Moreover, Acciari has performed relatively well in the faceoff circle, producing a winning percentage of 47.3% on the season.
Furthermore, his value comes from the intangibles and playing a potent physical, defensive-minded style of play. He’s already registered 20 total hits as well as 19 blocked shots while centering the gritty, forechecking fourth line.
In essence, Acciari doesn’t commit inexcusable penalties (2 penalty minutes in 2019) and rarely turns the puck over to the opposition (1 giveaway in 2019). Additionally, he’s developed outstanding chemistry with fellow wingers Colton Sceviour and Dryden Hunt, forcing head coach Joel Quenneville to keep the trio together for the majority of games.
Basically, the 27-year-old has fit in extremely well with the Panthers. He’s providing a much-needed veteran presence to a youthful bottom six, along with a powerful voice in the locker room.
As well, he’s also provided the Panthers with a crucial weapon on the penalty kill. With the help of Acciari killing an abundance of penalties, the Cats have improved their PK percentage to roughly 82%, which ranks among the top ten in the entire National Hockey League.
Despite missing three games due to injury, the Panthers were able to remain in a playoff position but truly missed Acciari’s presence on the fourth line. The Rhode Island native has certainly provided a positive impact, considering that he’s currently completely healthy and recovered from his past knock.
In hindsight, the Cats will need to depend on Noel Acciari in order to potentially clinch a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Having a fourth line that can chip in every night is crucial in today’s game, and with Acciari leading the charge on that line, the Panthers are in good hands knowing they can depend on him nightly.
Noel Acciari is an incredibly valuable player for the penalty kill and bottom six, and will undoubtedly serve a crucial role for the remainder of the season as well as the foreseeable future.