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Florida Panthers first round predictions

June 22, 2018, 10:45 AM ET [1 Comments]
Mark Paul
Florida Panthers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
As NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman finds his way to the podium to let the NHL world know that the Florida Panthers are on the clock, should we expect that he'll return only to say, "There's been a trade"?

After acquiring left winger Mike Hoffman from the Ottawa Senators, one would assume that if GM Dale Tallon were looking to the trade market it would be for a defenseman. One of the best trade partners could be the Calgary Flames, who looked like they'd have one of the best defense cores in the NHL last season, only to watch Travis Hamonic, Michael Stone and TJ Brodie take massive steps backward.

Hamonic and Brodie would likely be fetched using Florida's 15th overall pick, but is it worth it for the Panthers? It's likely that whomever the Panthers pick won't make the team for at least two years, and probably wouldn't make a significant impact until the 2021-22 season. This is a team that needs to create excitement amongst fans and begins to become a team that consistently makes the playoffs.

The last time the Panthers didn't have a first-round pick? In 2008, when the Panthers traded for Nashville Predator's goaltender Tomas Vokoun. It's time to utilize this first-round pick to acquire assets now. Enough building for the future. It's time to make a push.

The Carolina Hurricanes have stated that they want a first-round pick for Jeff Skinner. An option that would be more than worth exploring. Even if the Panthers had to give up a prospect like Aleksi Heponiemi. With Skinner, Florida would have perhaps the best top-six in the NHL. Alex Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, Mike Hoffman, Evgeny Dadonov, Jonathan Huberdeau and (assuming a trade happened) Jeff Skinner. The only downside to Skinner is that he's a UFA next year.

Perhaps an even bigger trade makes sense for the Panthers and Canes. As stated earlier, the Panthers should look to improve their defense core, and Carolina has good, young defensemen in droves. Haydn Fleury probably shouldn't have been taken seventh overall in 2014, but he still has the potential to be a top-four shutdown defenseman. Skinner and Fleury for Heponiemi, a first-round pick, and some other mid-round pick seem like a fair exchange for both teams looking to shake up the status quo.

If the Panthers decide to make a selection at 15th overall, we'll evaluate that pick tomorrow! Just a personal side note. I haven't been writing much the past three weeks as I was out of town and then suffered a really bad knee injury that had me missing work and completely out of the loop. I have recovered enough to write again so I apologize to you, my readers, for disappearing for a bit! I'm back and looking forward to giving you great Florida Panthers coverage this summer and next season!
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