2016 First Round Playoffs: Game 6 Loss to NYI
Last night NBCSN aired Game 6 of the 2016 first round playoffs between the Panthers and Islanders.
Unfortunately the game still ended the way it did four years ago, but it was a lot of fun going back and re-watching. Seriously. It's a awesome game.
Low-scoring, fast, back-and-forth action, double-OT...fun stuff.
One of the things that stuck out to me when watching was the team structure. There was some real good balance throughout all four lines and defensive pairings.
From an individual perspective regarding a player that's still rostered...what a different, more defensively-confident game Exblad played. He seemed more responsible and inclined to play his position and not jump in offensively as much as he does now.
When it comes to sports, I tend to have a pretty shaky memory, so seeing a lot of the old Cats had me doing numerous, "Oh yeah, that guy!" So it was only natural to want to go back and do a little research into the 2015-16 season...
For starters, Florida finished with a 47-26-9 record, which earned them 1st in the Atlantic and 3rd overall in the Eastern Conference. You kind of forget that they were legit. Kind of wild to compare that with current season record (so far) of 35-26-8 with about 12 games left to go.
During the 2015-16 season, the Panthers scored 239 goals, while surrendering 203. This current Cats team has notched 231 goals and given up 228. No doubt about it that the 2016 defense/goaltending (and overall team defense) was stronger and watching Game 6 last night reinforced that notion for me.
Now for the fun stuff...
That 2016 playoff team was composed of the below players with the amount of games played in that first round:
Reilly Smith (6)
Nick Bjugstad (5)
Jussi Jokinen (6)
Dmitri Kulikov (6)
Alex Petrovic (6)
Alexsander Barkov (6)
Jonathan Huberdeau (6)
Teddy Purcell (6)
Jaromir Jagr (6)
Brian Campbell (6)
Derek MacKenzie (6)
Jiri Hudler (6)
Garrett Wilson (6)
Vincent Trocheck (2)
Mike Matheson (5)
Aaron Ekblad (6)
Shawn Thornton (4)
Jakub Kindl (1)
Greg McKegg (1)
Erik Gudbranson (6)
Logan Shaw (3)
Rocco Grimaldi (2)
Al Montoya (0)
Rberto Luongo (6)
From that list, only four guys remain:
So what happened to all the other dudes?
Reilly Smith (F)
Due to salary cap issues, he was traded with Jonathan Marchessault to Vegas at the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
Nick Bjugstad (F) / Jared McCann (F)
Traded to the Penguins in 2019 for Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan, a 2nd round pick and two 4th round picks. I was a big fan of Sheahan in a Panthers sweater. Hard working player!
Jussi Jokinen (F)
After serving three years of his four-year contract, he was bought out by the Panthers with one year remaining during the 2016-17 season and later signed by Edmonton. He would then bounce around to LA, CBJ, VAN and the Finnish league. Important to note that he was pretty nasty during his second season with the Cats, scoring 18 goals and putting up 60 points.
Dmitry Kulikov (D)
Traded in the summer of 2016 along with the 33rd overall pick for the 2016 Draft to the Buffalo Sabres for Mark Pysyk (yikes!) and picks 38 and 89 in the 2016 Draft. After a rough go in BUF, he signed as a FA with Winnipeg, where he currently plays. I really liked Kulikov and thought he was a nice fit on the Cats' blueline. I think he's missed back there...
Alex Petrovic (D)
After seven season with Florida, he was traded in 2018 to EDM for Chris Wideman and a conditional third-round pick in 2019. He eventually signed a PTO with the Bruins in 2019 and is currently on their AHL affiliate (Providence Bruins).
Teddy Purcell (F)
Signed with the Kings as a FA in July 2016. Joined the Bruins in 2017 on a PTO and eventually released. He last played in the KHL during the 2017-18 season.
Jaromir Jagr (F)
LOL. What can you say about Jagr? The guy rules. He's 48 and still playing at a high level overseas, dominating. After not being offered a new contract by FLA for the 2017-18 season, the Flames stepped in gave the legend a one-year deal. After that, he signed with the HC Kladno of the Czech professional league.
Brian Campbell (D)
Signed a one-year contract with Chicago on July 1, 2016. The following July (2017), he announced his retirement and joined the Hawks' front office.
Derek MacKenzie (F)
He retired in the summer of 2018 having played one game during the 2017-18 season (due to injury) and is currently an assistant coach for the Cats.
Jiri Hudler (F)
Became a FA after the 2016 offseason and signed with the Dallas Stars, where he finished his career.
Garrett Wilson (F)
Signed as a FA with Penguins on a one-year, two-way contract on July 1, 2016. He played on the Pens AHL team, received a call up, but was reassigned after four games. As a FA, signed with the Maple Leafs in July of 2019 and is currently playing for their AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.
Vincent Trocheck (F)
Traded to the Carolina Hurricanes on February 24, 2020 (trade deadline) in exchange for Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark, Eetu Luostarinen and Chase Priskie.
Shawn Thornton (F)
Retired in 2017 and joined the Panthers front office...pummeling employees who don't get their TPS reports in on time.
Jakub Kindl (D)
After one year with the Panthers (2015-16), he went oversees to start a European career where he last signed a one-year contract with Kolner Haie of the DEL (Germany) on July 5, 2019.
Greg McKegg (F)
After 31 games with the Cats in the 2015-16 season, he was claimed off waivers by Tampa and eventually signed as a FA with Pittsburgh on July 1, 2017. After 26 games he was placed on waivers, passed and played on the Pens AHL team before being traded to Carolina. He would sign an one-year contract with the Hurricanes before signing a one-year contract as a FA with the NY Rangers on July 1, 2019.
Erik Gudbranson (D)
Traded to VAN on May 25, 2016 in exchange for Jared McCann and a second and fourth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He was then traded from the Canucks to the Penguins in 2019. Later that year (October) he was traded to the Ducks. Personally, I always liked Guddy in a Cats sweater. I think he had his better play in Florida. The front office did, too. I remember Tallon saying he saw Gudbranson as captain down the line because he had those leadership qualities. Not sure what happened...
Logan Shaw (F)
Selected 76th overall by the Panthers, Shaw was eventually traded to the Ducks after the 2016 season in exchange for Michael Sgarbossa (sounds like a Star Wars character). He would then be traded by Anaheim to Montreal. After being released by MTL, he was offered a training camp invite from Calgary and was eventually released from the Flames AHL affiliate and returned to Anaheim, where he would play for their AHL team, the Sand Diego Gulls. He eventually left the Gulls to sign a one-year, two-way contract with the Winnipeg Jets where he played for the Manitoba Moose (AHL). The Jets re-signed him for another one-year, two-way contract in May of 2019.
Rocco Grimaldi (F)
Another draft pick of the Panthers, Grimaldi was traded by FLA in the sumer of 2016 to the Avalanche in exchange for Reto Berra. After spending the majority of his time in the AHL, Grimaldi opted out of his contract with Colorado and signed as a FA with the Predators on July 1, 2018. During the 2020 trade deadline, Nashville resigned him to a two-year extension.
Looking at the above list kind of makes me think. Most of those guys are just, well, guys...there's no real "star power" there, save for a couple names. A lot of them are guys that played their roles really well. It's interesting how the right coach, system and players at certain time can all come together and get results. I think we saw that with the 16 team. Err-- minus the first-round exit of course..!
Al Montoya (G)
Signed as a FA with Montreal on July 1, 2016 for one-year to back up Carey Price. Resigned for two years in 2017 and was eventually traded to Edmonton in January of 2018.
Retired a Panther on June 26, 2019. Helluva career. Helluva guy!
What's interesting about this group of guys is, well, they're just guys...outside of a few, there was no real "star power" on that roster. The majority of these guys played their roles and played them well.
Gallant had built a solid team out of the tools he was given and I still wonder where the Cats would be had he not been fired. I don't know, I think he understood the DNA of the franchise and what it needed. That's why he went to bat for the players and guys he wanted brought in. He was getting the right results...
Have a nice weekend, stay safe and go Panthers!