In his first season with the Florida Panthers, forward Noel Acciari put up career highs all across the board.
Last Canada Day, the Florida Panthers were able to ink Noel Acciari to a three-year contract worth $1.6M annually. The deal came at a very reasonable price given Acciari’s output with the Bruins previously.
GM Dale Tallon saw this avenue as a way to help bolster the Panthers’ bottom six, quickly agreeing to terms with the then-27-year-old. Now 28, and Acciari has blossomed into more than what the Panthers were originally expecting. In 66 games, the Rhode Island native put up 20G, 7A, for 27 points – good for a career-high.
His 20 goals shattered the 10 goals that he once put up back in 2017-18, while his 27 points on the season trumped his former career-best (14) in his final season with the Bruins. It only took him half of the year to register a new personal best (16 points), which eventually led him to his season-ending 27 points.
In that time frame, Acciari recorded back-to-back hat tricks against the Ottawa Senators and Dallas Stars, registering seven points in those two outings. Those two games were special for Acciari as he became the second player in franchise history to score a hat trick in consecutive games, matching Pavel Bure who did it back in 2001.
His stellar play on the offensive end led to a promotion in ice time. Instead of featuring exclusively in the bottom six, Acciari was given minutes on the top-two forward lines – primarily the second. Despite a promotion in his role, Acciari was still able to succeed regardless of who his linemates were, without a dip in play.
While Acciari wasn’t a lock in the top six, head coach Joel Quenneville depended on his versatility quite heavily, throwing him on different lines when in need of a shakeup. More often than not, Acciari’s flexibility was crucial in helping kickstart a dull offense. It’s precisely because of his versatility and availability to play in any role at any given time why Acciari’s signing was not only a bargain deal but an essential one from a team standpoint.
All of his hard work did not go unnoticed as Acciari was recently listed as a nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy – an award given out to the best individual who exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the game. Acciari may not win the award, but there couldn’t have been a better nominee from the Panthers than Noel Acciari this year.
With his first season with the Florida Panthers now officially under his belt, Acciari will look to replicate his current form in the qualifying round as the Cats are set to meet the pesky New York Islanders.
Acciari, as he was in the regular season, can absolutely be a difference-maker for the Panthers up front this series, as goals will be hard to come by against this stubborn team. If Acciari can catch lightning in a bottle as he did throughout parts of the season, then Florida should have a chance at advancing over the Islanders and beating either two of their netminders – both who they had trouble beating.
In the first year of his three-year contract, Acciari demonstrated that he’s not only lived up to his deal but that he’s exceeded all expectations based on what he was originally brought in to do.