The NHL Trade Deadline is approaching and the Florida Panthers are looking to be buyers. On Wednesday, a flurry of players will throw the uniform of their former team in the back of their closets, grab a flight and don a new logo that they will wear for at least the next 5-6 weeks. The Panthers are in the tight Eastern conference race and here is somethings you need to know.
Forward who can play on the 3rd line but play top 6 minutes if necessary- The Panthers top 6 includes Aleksander Barkov (Age 21); Jonathan Huberdeau (23); Vincent Trocheck (23); Reilly Smith (25); Jussi Jokinen (33) and Jaromir Jagr (45). The Panthers have depth in Nick Bjugstad; Jonathan Marchessault; Colton Sceviour and Derek Mackenzie. However, while Bjugstad and Marchessault can play anywhere; Sceviour is at best a 2nd liner and MacKenzie a 3rd liner. Sgarbossa and Malgin are inexperienced and although they are good regular season options, it would be better to get experience for the playoffs.
Powerplay Forwards- We need forwards who can play on the powerplay. This guy would be preferably meet the 1st need as well as this need. This team needs powerplay help.
Goaltending Depth- Rumor on the street says that Luongo is hurt. This need isn’t a big one as Berra and McKenna are solid 2-3 guys for a few games. We might need an AHL backup or ECHL starter if Lu is really badly hurt.
Patrick Sharp (W)- The 35 year old veteran only has 1 year remaining on his $5.9M contract. The Panthers have the necessary cap space to acquire him as a rental. He has 7 goals and 7 assists in 35 games. While he only has 1 powerplay point this year which is a lonely goal, he had 24 points on the man advantage last year. He won 3 cups in Chicago and can bring playoff experience to South Florida. Sharp has 142 playoff games and 47 goals and 87 points in the playoffs. With the postseason struggles of Jaromir Jagr and the Panthers young core, Sharp may be needed if the team hopes to go on a deep playoff run. Value: A- Sharp brings a lot of positives to the table but his age and cap hit would allow him to be the only acquisition at the deadline. Also, the price could be steep and if we miss the playoffs the acquisition would be for nothing. However with the Cats in a playoff race and how a new organization might be a boost, I think Sharp squeaks out a soft A-. Current Team: Dallas.
Thomas Vanek (W)- Despite being bought out by the Wild and being labeled as overrated, I feel that Vanek is the opposite of overrated and is actually underrated. He has 38 points in 47 games. While he isn’t the 60 points a season guy he once was, I think the 33 year old isn’t washed up. With a $2.8M cap hit and the Red Wings looking to be sellers, I think Vanek and his 11 powerplay points should be looked into by the Cats. The only problem is what we will have to give up. The Wings will want a lot probably and the Panthers don’t want to shell out big name prospects for rentals. When the playoffs roll around, Vanek is around a 0.5 Point per game player in his career in the postseason. Value: A-