I. The Duke Is Back
Anthony Duclair has finished his long rehab stint and will be back in the lineup Friday versus the Buffalo Sabres. Great to have the Duke’s speed and skill back on the ice to help this injury-riddled Panthers team out.
Barkov, Bennet, E. Staal and Smith are all battling injuries and did not skate on Feb 23rd - though Maurice expects Barkov to be ready to go against Buffalo.
II. Knight Down, Lyon Up
I like this move a lot, though I’m not sure how much longer we can keep hearing the, “Knight gets an opportunity to play games,” line. Either leave him down there to marinate, or make a move. I’m just don’t see him grabbing the reigns and running away with things right now…
III. Tierney Claimed Off Waivers
Straight to the point here.
Trade Deadline: Buyers? Sellers?
As the TDL clock ticks down to seven days — and with the increased news of other teams making moves — Florida Panthers fans have to wonder what the Cats will do come March 3rd’s deadline.
The team’s inconsistent play this year, coupled with their cap woes and chasing an elusive playoff spot they may not get, would suggest the Panthers won’t be big players at this year’s deadline.
It’s been a fall from grace of sorts for Florida. After having the best season in franchise history last year and winning the President’s Trophy, this group has taken a step back. Most experts predicted a regression with the moves they made last season to gear up for the playoffs, and then the coaching change in the summer, but this goes beyond a “regression” for me.
This team never found its identity, and with half the season gone, I wouldn’t plan on them finding it, somehow flipping the switch, and playing consistent hockey. Despite the talent, sometimes a team just is what it is. For the 2022-23 Florida Panthers, what they are is inconsistent. They will win games you expect them to, and they will lose games you don’t expect them to. Then they will do the opposite and a bunch of other random things. There’s no pattern. It’s a roll of the dice.
However, there’s an option outside of buying or selling: staying put.
This team just isn’t built for the playoffs (yet) and neither were they built for it last year.
They are not a player or two away from making a deep run. There’s multiple holes and some kind of “disconnect” on the ice that’s hard to explain, but one that exists.
Guys like Tkachuk, Bennett, Lomberg and Smith, have all helped bring an edge/toughness (with skill), but it doesn’t solve the issue that’s been on the blue line for what feels like forever.
Zito is in a tough spot. After moving all his chips last Deadline, and being up against the cap until this summer, there’s not a whole lot that he can do to vastly improve this team.
has a 50-player “Trade Target” list. Ironically, the only Panther on there is Colin White at #44:
“Stats: 46 GP, 7 G, 7 A, 14 Pts
Contract: Pending RFA, $1.2 million
Scoop: White’s name has popped up in trade conversations in recent days as the Panthers have sought some salary cap flexibility. He is by no means a lock to get traded, but he is playing fourth line minutes and likely believes he has a little more to give. If the Panthers trend toward missing the playoffs by Deadline Day, they may consider moving him.”
This might suggest there will be a smaller move or two made, but I don’t expect any blockbusters.
Personally, I think Zito is going to ride things out the way they are (again, maybe a minor move or two for the cap) and see what happens. It won’t be until the summer that we see significant change/upgrades.
With that being said…I’m a fan and want to see the Panthers succeed. I’m also a big believer in the idea that anything can happen if you can just get into the playoffs.
Is it possible the Cats turn this thing around, get into the playoffs, and go the distance?
There’s just a lot of very good teams in top shape that look ready to win now…
Only time will tell what’s in store for our Panthers. Until then, enjoy the Deadline madness and what the remainder of the season holds!
Let’s get these Sabres tonight…Go Panthers!