This morning I woke up (which is always a good thing, I suppose) and hit the old internets to poke around for some Panthers news.
I came across an article from The Hockey News
that lists eight teams (see below) they believe will influence the 2019 off-season the most.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs
If everything Tallon, and the Panthers brass, has expressed about being aggressive is believed to be true, Florida can certainly be a major influence on where guys go - whether by choice or via trade.
It's a far cry from years past. It could realistically be the first time the Panthers find themselves truly in the drivers seat (maybe ever) when it comes to adding high-end talent. The writer of the article even goes so far to say that he considers the panthers to be "the 2019 off-season's Most Interesting Team in The World."
It's a bold statement, but it could be true in some ways...
It seems that a lot of folks, from the experts/insiders to fans (both serious and casual) have taken notice of Florida. A lot of that is due to the talent they possess up front, while a big portion can be contributed to Tallon's comments about changing the organ-I-zations philosophy and the promise to break away from the mediocrity they've been mired in for years.
That statement was backed up (in a major way) by the hiring of Q for the head coach position. This has certainly been the biggest news of the off-season thus far. It's also a move that sent a message to the league and fans that the Panthers are in fact serious. No more posturing/pandering to the idea of change, with little-to-no-actual work put in to create said change. It appears they're finally doing it.
While they've started out on the right foot, they still have a lot of work to do. It'll be interesting to see if they're able to upgrade the defense and bring in a solid, top goalie, too. If these areas aren't properly addressed, I would say they fell short of their message/goal.
It's time for the Panthers to finally break through the stigma of the perpetually young, up-and-comers that has followed them for last little while.
Panarin's Rights for a 2nd
Yesterday, EK posted an update
regarding the Panarin-to-Florida rumor that's been prevalent along with the Bob rumblings for the past few months.
The update reported the Panthers would send a 2nd round pick to Columbus for Panarins rights.
Panarin is also rumored to possibly be going to NY and slew of other teams.
Here's where I need help from you guys, as I'm not very strong when it comes to trades, contracts, etc....if the Panthers were so confident (as many "sources" have said) they had a done deal with the Bread Man, why would they need to send a 2nd to get his rights? Wouldn't they just wait until July 1st and sign him?
Also...I still think Panarin is a luxury and am hoping the true upgrades are coming on the blue line and in the crease.
Speaking of upgrading the blue line...
If I'm the Panthers and I'm looking for a young guy to bring in, I would look at Nic Hague from the Chicago Wolves.
Drafted in the second round (34th overall) of the 2017 draft by the Golden Knights, Hague stands at 6'6" and about 220 lbs and is 20-years old (he'd fit right in with a lot of the young guys in the room). He's been a driving force since joining the Wolves and is currently helping Chicago as they clash with the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL Calder Cup Finals.
I've watched Nic since being called up to the A. Prior to that, he was awarded the Max Kaminsky Trophy - which is given to the OHL's Most Outstanding Defenseman of the Year.
I really dig his game and he's become my favorite player on Chicago. For a big guy, I feel he moves well. He also uses his reach and frame to his advantage and can be physical - he certainly has the imposing size. A rangy guy with a good shot and someone who can start a play/rush, but also plays good defense. I'd love to see the Wolves target him or someone of similar ilk - if even for depth/future playing time purposes.
BTW...Go Wolves! Get that cup!
[Photo courtesy of The Hockey News]