Close Up Shop on the Season
The Panthers play the Tampa Bay Lightning tomorrow night, but after that loss to Buffalo on Friday evening, it’s hard to be excited for this upcoming tilt, or the Trade Deadline.
Due to multiple factors like bad contracts and unloading the majority of their chips (picks and prospects) last season while swinging for the fences, Florida is now in a “powerless” position. They are crippled by the cap and can’t make any moves due to not having the assets to do so. Not to mention their current play has them missing the playoffs.
While I can’t speak for fans, the above factors, combined with the current coaching staff/scheme and lack of any word from the front office, leave me feeling like the Panthers are (once again) directionless.
I just don’t get it. How do you go from the best season in franchise history to this?
Last blog we discussed if the Cats will be buyers or sellers this Deadline. At the time, my opinion was that they were going to stand pat and not make any moves.
However, after losing to the Sabres (outstanding game by Anderson), I hope they start selling.
If they do, the question then becomes: Who do they move?
The caveat to selling — and tricky thing — is that it seems the trades they can make would result in creating holes in key areas they already need help in; for example, moving Gudas (the latest rumor) will put a hole on the blue line, and further extend a source of pain that’s been going on for years now.
Florida needs to go something like 15-6 to have a chance at the playoffs. They are not a piece or two away from getting back on track and making their way to the postseason. The inconsistent play all year long points to a fundamental flaw with this group. It’s not a lack of talent, there’s just something that hasn’t been working and that most likely points to Maurice’s style of coaching and the scheme he has in place.
While teams are in the business of winning, perhaps it’s best at this time that the Cats acknowledge they aren’t capable of going on the above-mentioned run, and will most likely wind up towards the bottom of the division and out of a playoff spot. The sooner they do this, the better.
I say this because there is the timing factor with the deadline. The good teams who are already in the playoffs, and the legit bubble teams leaning towards a spot, are looking to load up while they can. The longer the Panthers take to decide to be sellers and start moving pieces, the more time it gives real playoff teams to go elsewhere to get what they need.
I think the most realistic guys who could potentially be moved are:
- Staal bros.
At this point, try to get picks/prospects for them and plug in some young guys to fill their spots for the rest of the year (if Maurice allows it, LOL).
I hate to quit on a season, but they have to call it for what it is. Watching the Bostons, Carolinas, etc., of the league play really shows how far the Panthers have to go. Some changes need to be made at this deadline (send a message?) because this play/scheme cannot carry over to next season. Then the hard decisions will need to take place this summer…
Battle of Florida
The Panthers will head into Tampa without Barkov and Bennet to take on the 37-18-4 Lightning. Tampa sits in third place of the Atlantic Division, right behind the 37-15-8 Toronto Maple Leafs who are going all-in after trading for Ryan O’Reilly, Noel Acciari, Sam Lafferty, and Jake McCabe.
One wonders if TOR wants to continue strengthening their weak defense by adding Gudas..?
Let’s see how things shake out!