The prospect tournament came to an end today with a number of the Panthers’ kittens showing some real promise and lots to be excited about.
Sounds like forward (and Florida native) Logan Hutsko had quite the tournament and caught the eyes of the competition, coaches and his own teammates.
From what I read it also sounds like Denisenko was fired up and playing on another level. Special thanks to our insider, Shynes, for giving us a report of on the two periods he watched over the weekend - haha. Didn’t see much on Lundell, but we know he had a really nice camp.
Hornqvist Trade Proposal
Yesterday The Hockey News
posted an article that discussed the idea of Hornqvist potentially being the odd man on on the Panthers roster with additions like Sam Reinhart and the upcoming talent of guys like Lundell, Denisenko, etc.
As the article states:
“Hornqvist spent 68.5% of his ice time on a line alongside Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov in the top six last season. That doesn’t look as likely this season, especially now that Reinhart will likely be serving as Barkov’s right-hand man alongside Carter Verhaeghe and Huberdeau’s line centered by Sam Bennett will probably feature a dog fight between Owen Tippett and Anthony Duclair.
The third line also looks pretty set in stone, with one of Duclair or Tippett most likely taking a spot alongside Frank Vatrano and possibly Lundell, who has been very impressive during the Panthers’ prospect development camp. This leaves the 34-year-old competing for a spot on the fourth line with Ryan Lomberg and Mason Marchment, who each make over $4 million less than Hornqvist and are both eight years younger.
Hornqvist provided a lot of goal scoring, grit, and leadership to the Panthers, especially when he scored six goals in the Panthers’ first 12 games of the season, putting him one goal behind Verhaeghe for the team lead. A lot of those numbers could’ve been a product of playing in the top six and being guaranteed a spot with Barkov and Huberdeau, who combined for 19 assists in the first 12 games of the season.
Thornton’s addition adds the leadership and the physicality that Hornqvist brings, while Reinhart’s arrival brings goal scoring at a much more reliable pace than Hornqvist’s playstyle allows for. Denisenko is also another winger that brings a dynamic offense presence that Hornqvist can’t, as he possesses excellent speed and playmaking ability.
With Florida’s forward depth forcing Hornqvist into a role that would likely not be sustainable for him, it may be likely that his days are numbered. But what’s next for the winger?
One very likely scenario is that the Panthers package Hornqvist with a draft pick to acquire a left-handed defenseman. As of right now, Gustav Forsling and Markus Nutivaara are the only returning left-handed defensemen who were NHL regulars last year following the buyout of Keith Yandle.
One team that has a surplus on the blueline that could use Hornqvist’s leadership is the Seattle Kraken. He could fill a role much like James Neal did for the Vegas Golden Knights during their inaugural season, serving as a leader who knows what it takes to win. Like Neal, he was a Stanley Cup Champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins and he has the same type of playstyle as Neal did. He’s a bruising power forward who can put the puck in the back of the net.
In a package that includes Hornqvist, the Panthers could likely receive a player like Jeremy Lauzon, whose playing time could be severely impacted by Seattle’s depth on the left side of the defense. That group currently consists of former Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano, Jamie Oleksiak, and Vince Dunn. All three of them are capable defensemen who can play on many other teams’ top two pairings.
Lauzon is another talented defenseman who could play that same type of role on most teams. The problem is, much like for Hornqvist, the role for him isn’t necessarily available. He spent 51.1% of his ice time alongside Charlie McAvoy on the Bruins’ top pairing last season and now finds himself in a situation where he is fighting for a spot on the roster altogether.
With Seattle’s forward core being a lot weaker than its defense, the addition of Hornqvist could help add even more depth and leadership to that group, while Lauzon could fill a much-needed role on the Panthers’ blue line.
The Panthers have one of the best problems to have right now: they have too much depth. But moves need to be made to make room for younger players like Denisenko, who add even more to that depth. By the looks of it, Hornqvist could be one of the players sacrificed in a move.“
I actually find this to be an interesting thought…
I’m a big Horqvist fan and think he brings a lot to this Panthers club in the way of veteran leadership, cup pedigree, but, more importantly, he fills a much needed role that no one else does on this team: going to the front of the net and taking a beating to score.
In my opinion, Hornqvist is one of the best in the business at this aspect of the game. I think you move him only if you’re getting that expected uptick in consistent goal production from your regulars, last year’s additions (Bennett, etc.) and newcomers like Reinhart with the roster rounded out by young guns Lundell and Denisenko.
If that production isn’t there (which is hard to image when looking at this team on paper), I think you keep Hornqvist around to ensure those greasy/tough goals will at least find their way onto the scoresheet.
That being said…the idea of moving him for a defenseman is pretty appealing. As the article points out, Hornqvist does check a lot of boxes for the expansion Kraken, and they’re jammed on the blueline - which could mean ripe pickings for Florida if the trade is done right.
I really know nothing about Jeremy Lauzon, so I did some digging…
He was drafted by Boston in 2015 and entered the league in 2018 with good size at 6’2” and 210 lbs. He has 76 games under his belt and a total of 11 points (3G, 8A). In his last five games of this past season, he had a TOI between 17-21 minutes.
It sounds like he has had some ups and downs in his play and prone to some mistakes - all things young players make as they learn the NHL game. What I think is telling is that Boston seemed to really like him - and not just because they were in a tough spot with injuries and had to play him. It seems Bruin coaches and teammates really believed in and like him
““[Expletive] happens,” Marchand said of Lauzon. “He’s a great player for us. He competes very hard, and he’s out there every night working his butt off and competing for the group. We all make mistakes. We’ve all been there. It’s tough when it happens to you, but we’re going to bounce back. It’s not the end of the world — it’s 1-1 and we just have to work on that next one.””
While I know most of us would prefer some of those other names on the Kraken backend that are in the veteran category, at 24 and with an AAV of $850,000 Florida could free up from that $5.3M Hornqvist hit, the move feels more like something to do if the Cats were rebuilding?
If Zito is looking to save money and get a young guy with some NHL experience that might be trending up on the backend (especially since Kierstad, Gildon and Ludvig probably won’t be ready yet), Lauzon could be an interesting option.
I really think we just need to see how things unfold this season. That will obviously dictate any trades. Would love anyone familiar with him, or any Boston fans, to weigh in on Lauzon and his play.
BB&T No More
It appears the Panthers rink has a new name: FLA Live Arena.
Yikes…not feeling that name whatsoever…
Per the Cat’s website:
“Florida Panthers President & CEO Matt Caldwell announced today that the Arena Operating Company, a subsidiary of Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, has commenced a search for a new arena naming rights partner. In the interim, the arena will be called FLA Live Arena.
This announcement follows a mutual agreement between the Arena Operating Company and BB&T now Truist to not extend the arena naming rights agreement effective immediately. BB&T has been the Panthers' arena naming rights partner since 2012.
"We want to thank the leadership at BB&T now Truist for their loyal support and partnership for the past 11 years," said Panthers Chief Commercial Officer Shawn Thornton. "As we move forward in identifying a new naming rights partnership for the arena, we will seek to build on this incredible momentum with an innovative long-term partner that aligns with our culture, brand and growth trajectory as South Florida's hockey market continues to grow exponentially."
"We're proud of our relationship with the Florida Panthers and grateful for the opportunity to partner with them to create a space-a premier sports and entertainment venue-for South Florida residents to make lasting memories," said Joe Smith, head of sponsorship and regional marketing at Truist. "As we continue defining the Truist brand, we look forward to engaging with fans in meaningful ways."
In December 2020, the state-of-the-art BB&T Center now FLA Live Arena became the NHL's first arena to earn the prestigious WELL Health-Safety rating, which serves as the global benchmark for safety in public spaces. Florida's largest indoor arena, and one of the most notable sports and entertainment venues worldwide, the 20,000-seat arena is located in the flourishing South Florida market, which draws the world's most prominent concert touring artists and ranks amongst the top five U.S. media markets. Located across the street from Sunrise's Sawgrass Mills Mall, which attracts upwards of 30 million visitors annually, the arena hosts hundreds of major concerts, events, and performance acts each year, from Elton John and the Billboard Latin Music Awards to WWE Live in years past, with upcoming acts that include Harry Styles, Luke Combs, and more.
Fans can now visit FlaLiveArena.com for more information on concerts, shows, events and hockey games and can follow @FlaLiveArena on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the latest arena announcements.”
Lastly…I love this promo Tweet! Go Panthers!