What To Make Of Cole Schwindt’s Panthers Debut

After making his NHL debut against the Los Angeles Kings, Florida Panthers winger Cole Schwindt needs to keep producing at the AHL level to return to Sunrise.

Before the team was shut down through the Christmas break, winger Cole Schwindt made his NHL debut after being called up to the Florida Panthers on an emergency loan for a game last week against the Kings.

Schwindt did not perform well in his debut with the NHL club. He was on the ice for 9:27 and did not register a shot. He was a minus two on the ice in an eventual 1-4 loss to the Kings last Thursday.

Lucky for Schwindt, the entire team did not play well either, and that was due in large to the fact that Florida was playing multiple men short for the first time.

It’s unlikely that even if the former third-round pick played well, he would have stayed with the big club. So it makes sense to have sent him down immediately after the game against LA so that he could keep playing while the Panthers would be on pause.

However, with the way that he is playing in the AHL for the Charlotte Checkers, Schwindt has made a case to be on the shortlist for the Panthers if they need more players to fill in due to injuries or sickness.

Schwindt has led the Checkers to a 14-11-2 start, good for fifth place in the AHL’s Atlantic Division. He is, however, the leading scorer on the team with 19 points in 27 games.

He’s got the team lead in goals with nine and is third in assists with 10. He is yet to score on the powerplay this season, but he has shown some creativity with a pair of short-handed goals.

In his minor league career, Schwindt has recorded just one season where he has scored 20 goals. That came in 2019-20 in the OHL with the Mississauga Steelheads. That year, he netted 28 goals and 71 points in 57 games.

This breakout season led him to a third-round pick in the 2019 draft by the Panthers. However, he has netted just nine goals and 21 points in 37 regular-season games since then.

The COVID year could be a significant factor in the drop in production from the Ontario native, but there is ample opportunity for Schwindt to rebound and make a push for a roster spot in 2022.