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Most underrated player on the Florida Panthers?

June 19, 2020, 11:11 AM ET [5 Comments]
HockeyBuzz Hotstove
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In this edition of the hotstove, we share our choices for most underrated player on the Florida Panthers.

Todd Cordell

MacKenzie Weegar.

He plays on a small market team, he doesn’t produce many points, and he won’t make you take notice with an overwhelmingly physical style. Weegar doesn’t have much clout as a result, however, he is an awesome defensive defender.

This season the Panthers allowed 10 fewer shot attempts, and ~4.5 fewer scoring chances, per 60 minutes with Weegar on the ice. He was able to consistently neuter opposing offenses despite starting a smaller percentage of his shifts in the offensive zone than every defender on the roster outside of Anton Stralman.

This is hardly anything new. Florida’s defensive metrics have been miles better across the board in each of Weegar’s three seasons as an NHL regular.

Weegar’s impact reminds me a lot of Niklas Hjalmarsson’s during his tenure with Chicago. If and when Florida takes the next step and starts putting together playoff appearances, I think a lot of people are going to realize just how effective Weegar can be.

James Tanner

After the star players in the NHL, the rest of the players are more or less interchangeable, and this means that some players who are good don't get the chance to break out.

A good example of this kind of player is Florida's Noel Acciari, who experienced a bit of a breakout season this year at age 28. Acciari earned a role in the bottom of the Bruins lineup the last couple of years, but his move to Florida offered him much more opportunity on a much worse team.

Acciari came out of nowhere to pot 20 goals in 67 games and put up an astonishing 2 win (WAR) season. The 20 goals are great, but it's the defensive stats that make him more than just a high-shooting percentage outlier. Acciari is one of the NHL's most underrated players and though no one will ever truly know why FLA felt the need to pay him $1.6 million on a three year deal prior to this season, it has somehow worked out.

Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com

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