With the Florida Panthers lacking out on the likes of Taylor Corridor and Kyle Palmieri, common supervisor Invoice Zito determined to take a small-ball strategy to the 2021 NHL Commerce Deadline. Zito was in a position to fill the roster with two trades and a free agent signing, giving the Panthers an opportunity to compete with out mortgaging the long run, however did he do sufficient?
Associated: Trade Deadline Tracker
At a traditionally quiet NHL Commerce Deadline, particularly within the Central Division the place the Carolina Hurricanes (from ‘What did the Carolina Hurricanes do on the NHL commerce deadline?,’ Information Observer, 4/12/2021) and Tampa Bay Lightning (‘Lightning add protection depth at NHL commerce deadline,’ TampaBay.com, 4/12/2021) each made minimal strikes, the Panthers did perform a little bit extra to maneuver the needle than their rivals did. However how far has the needle moved for the Panthers? We’ll assess every of those three offers and work out the way it shakes up the Panthers’ lineup.
April 10: Panthers Purchase Buffalo D Brandon Montour for a 2021 Third-Spherical Decide
The primary transfer Zito made in the course of the weekend was to accumulate somebody who may assist fill Aaron Ekblad’s spot within the lineup quickly whereas he’s out with a knee damage. Zito thinks Montour will have the ability to have an immediate impact on the workforce, saying “his two-way acumen and talent to play necessary minutes make him an thrilling addition to the Panthers.”
Montour’s offensive numbers this season, particularly on a pitiful Buffalo Sabres workforce, are nothing to scoff at. In 38 video games, the 27-year-old defenseman has 5 targets and 14 factors, with two of his targets approaching the penalty kill. Whereas his defensive optics have been horrid this season, plenty of that has to do with the very fact he’s coming from Buffalo.
His anticipated targets towards per 60 minutes (xGA/60) is sort of at -2 this season, however that may be remedied if he’s positioned with a accomplice that may match together with his two-way fashion of play. Defensive stalwart MacKenzie Weegar seemingly appears to be who that accomplice is, as Ekblad’s gap within the lineup has opened that risk up.
As for the worth for Montour, who’s an unrestricted free agent on the finish of the season, a third-round decide is certainly not unhealthy, particularly contemplating how tough scouting has been this season. If Montour doesn’t gel with the remainder of the roster, the Panthers can minimize their losses and let him go with out having given up something important, which makes this deal a win.
April 11: Panthers Signal Just lately Purchased Out Ahead Nikita Gusev to a 1-year, $1 Million Contract
Zito’s subsequent transfer concerned no threat in any way, signing Nikita Gusev to a $1 million deal after the New Jersey Devils purchased him out of his contract. This transfer provides potential depth scoring to the Panthers’ roster with out giving up any property in any respect, a complete win for Florida.
Whereas Gusev’s numbers have fallen off of a cliff this season, solely amounting to 2 targets and 5 factors in 20 video games, his previous observe file proves that he has some potential to be a scoring menace. In 2019-20, he scored 13 targets and 44 factors in 66 video games, not unhealthy for his first season within the NHL.
Gusev’s KHL numbers inform the same story, together with his greatest season coming in 2018-19 when he scored 17 targets and 82 factors in 62 video games for SKA St. Petersburg. He’s a strong playmaker who can put the puck within the internet when he must, which looks like a strong match alongside most of the gifted forwards on the Panthers’ roster.
He may discover himself in a task the place he will be organising Patric Hornqvist on the third line, or he may discover himself wreaking havoc alongside Barkov or Huberdeau. If the deal doesn’t pan out that approach, it’s not a giant deal; the Panthers gave up nothing for him, and so they get off of his contract after the season is over.
If the signing does pan out, nonetheless, Florida gained one other viable depth scorer who may probably return subsequent season for no price in any respect.
April 12: Panthers Commerce 2022 Second Spherical Decide Emil Heineman to Calgary for Sam Bennett
In one of many extra puzzling strikes on the deadline, the Florida Panthers traded a 2022 second-round decide and 2020 second-round decide Emil Heineman in trade for Sam Bennett and a 2022 sixth-round draft decide. Contemplating the Boston Bruins solely gave up a 2021 second-rounder and Anders Bjork for Taylor Corridor, this would possibly’ve been a little bit of an overpay.
Bennett’s profession since being chosen fourth total in 2014 by the Calgary Flames has been a little bit of a letdown, with him solely scoring 67 targets and 140 factors in 402 video games as a Flame, and this season has been extra of the identical. In 38 video games this yr, the 24-year-old heart has simply 4 targets and 12 factors in 28 video games.
Nonetheless, one of many extra promising elements of Bennett’s recreation, particularly for a workforce entrenched in a playoff race, is his playoff numbers. Final season, he scored 5 targets and eight factors within the playoffs, main the Flames in each classes.
Whether or not or not a change in surroundings will deliver out that manufacturing extra persistently from Bennett stays to be seen, however the Panthers did take a large threat in buying the pending restricted free agent. It’s also seemingly that the Panthers must wait a timetable of at the least per week for Bennett to even play his first recreation with the workforce as a result of the commerce was made with a Canadian membership.
Bennett seemingly matches on the roster as a second or third-line heart, and with the best linemates, he could have an opportunity to revitalize his profession, nevertheless it stays to be seen.
With the Panthers making plenty of low-risk, high-reward strikes, it looks like there are plenty of inquiries to be answered down the stretch, but when these strikes pan out the way in which Zito needed them to, Florida could have a Stanley Cup contender.
Colby Man is a author for the Florida Panthers division right here at THW. He’s a junior at Florida Atlantic College and presently serves as a social media supervisor and photographer for FAU Owls Nest. He additionally works as a contract author for debt.com. Beforehand, Colby has written for FanSided as a New York Islanders, Florida Panthers, and Nashville Predators author. He additionally served as Editor-In-Chief for FAU’s College Press.
Colby grew up an Islanders fan and had season tickets earlier than transferring to Florida.