The moment no one has waited for is upon us. It’s time to talk Panthers trades. Before I begin, I must share a disclaimer. I. HATE. TRADES. Absolutely despise getting rid of players. So, I will be very picky about who I will even consider letting go. Apologies in advance for fans of Owen Tippett; I don’t want to see him go either. Also, I am horrifically underqualified to talk about anything related to the salary cap. I get completely lost. With that said, let’s take a look at who’s on the block and who’s on the radar.
On The Block.
Drafted by the Panthers with the 10th overall pick in 2017, Owen Tippett was lauded as a pure goal scorer. I feel he isn’t being utilized to the best of his ability to the point that he isn’t being given a chance to succeed. With the Panthers’ offensive depth, Tippett has become one of the odd men out, along with the next player on the block.
Franklin “the Tanklin” Vatrano, acquired by the Panthers via trade from the Boston Bruins in 2018, has become another odd man out as the season progresses. He has an excellent wrist shot and can get scorching hot when he wants to. He hasn’t had the chance. (Of course, as I write this, he is announced as part of the lineup against the Blue Jackets. It ruins my narrative! Although there are a TON of scouts scheduled to be at the game, so it might be a showcase game.)
I will not be shocked to see some of the Panthers’ young prospects sent elsewhere in some of these trades.
On The Radar. (In no particular order.)
Look me in the eyes and tell me that Claude Giroux doesn’t fit into this lineup PERFECTLY. I’ll wait. If you think the Panthers’ offense is insane now, wait until Claude Giroux starts flying up and down the ice next to Barkov, Huberdeau, Duclair, Verhaeghe, Bennett, etc. Can Bill Zito find a way to make his cap hit fit? That’s far above my paygrade.
Before I dive into my list of defensemen that the Panthers might be after, I must take a moment to address Filip Forsberg. Rumors have him on Nashville’s trading block, and he would also fit very nicely into the Panthers’ fast and loose style of hockey. His salary-cap hit also isn’t as hard to swallow as Claude Giroux’s. The real question will be whether Nashville is open to trading him.
An experienced defenseman on a team that will probably be looking to sell come the trade deadline. Along with the following three players on this list, Mark Giordano could definitely be on the Panthers’ trade radar in the coming weeks. A former Norris Trophy winner, the current captain of the Seattle Kraken, has a few more years of quality hockey left in the tank. After spending 15 seasons on the Calgary Flames without an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals, the 38-year-old might be looking to solidify his chances at a cup before he runs out of time in his career.
Chychrun… Why does that name sound familiar? Oh yeah! His father, Jeff, has been an analyst for the Panthers’ tv broadcasts for the last three seasons. A former Junior Panther, Jakob Chychrun, grew up cheering on the Panthers as a young kid from Boca Raton. The youngest player on my list of targets, Jakob, is the only player that I see staying with the Panthers long-term if acquired. And wouldn’t it be cool to have him skating alongside fellow South Floridian defenseman Chase Priskie?
The Dallas Stars are sitting right on the edge of the Western Conference playoff chase in a situation not dissimilar to Filip Forsberg’s Nashville Predators. That being the case, they may be hesitant to part ways with an experienced defenseman like John Klingberg. Personally, I feel he would be a great fit alongside our current defensemen and could help clean up some of the sloppy play we’ve seen as of late.
Another experienced defenseman on a team that is going nowhere. Calvin de Haan isn’t really known for his offensive play. I mean, why would he? He’s a defenseman! What stands out for me is his ability to absorb shots and throw his body around at will. He averages over 100 blocked shots and 100 hits a season. Someone like him would be a great help for our sometimes struggling goaltenders.
Speaking of goaltenders… (Brace yourselves!)
Before everyone starts yelling and screaming, hear me out. While this probably won’t happen, the Panthers need a depth goalie. Especially after Thursday night’s performance from Jonas Johansson. (Nothing against JoJo, I’d rather not have to see THAT again.) This issue really boils down to three not-so-simple questions. Do I trust Sergei Bobrovsky? Not really. Do I trust Spencer Knight? More than Bob, but not really. Will Bill Zito make an earth-shattering move like this? Sure, why not? What could POSSIBLY go wrong, right?
This is pretty self-explanatory. The Panthers need defensive depth.
But What if We Don’t?
“A trade deadline without trades!?!? Have you lost your mind!?!?!” I hear you screaming through the screen. Yes, I have lost my mind, but that’s not the point. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” The Panthers have dominated out on the ice since day 1. Why change something that is working? Granted, there are some holes, but those holes can easily be closed with better puck management and tighter checking. Can this group of guys do that? The talent is there, so why not? There are also prospects chomping at the bit like Chase Priskie. It will be fascinating to see what, if any, moves Bill Zito cooks up as we approach the trade deadline.