This offseason, the Florida Panthers have several UFAs and RFAs. Let’s take a look at each one and if we should bring them back
Derek Mackenzie- The 37 year old center only played 2 minutes of ice time this year due to a knee injury and will be retiring. Mackenzie is rumored to be joining the Panthers in a role with Hockey Ops.
Who Should Come Back?
Troy Brouwer- After being bought out by the Calgary Flames, the 33 year old veteran had a solid season as a depth player in Florida. Reuniting with former coach Joel Quenneville, look for Brouwer to become an important veteran presence in the Florida locker room. It also doesn’t hurt that he scored a dozen goals in 75 games last year. Contract- 2 years, $1.4M AAV. Chances of Coming Back: 85%
Jamie McGinn- After missing most of the season with back surgery, McGinn had a respectable season with 7 points in 19 games following a 29 point season in 76 games. McGinn could help provide a veteran presence for Florida’s young bottom 6 and could help mentor them. Contract- 1 year $1M AAV. Chances of Coming Back: 29%
Jean-Sebastien Dea- Acquired at the trade deadline for Chris Wideman, Dea had 6 points in 23 NHL games for the Devils and Penguins. However in Springfield, the center put up 22 points including 11 goals in 20 games with Springfield. Dea could compete for the 4th line center role and could provide some veteran experience for a young Springfield team which will likely see top prospects Owen Tippett and Aleski Heponiemi next year. Contract- 1 year $700K AAV Chances of Coming Back: 20%
Who Should Go?
Riley Sheahan- Another trade acquisition, Sheahan had 10 points in 33 games with Florida. Despite earning praise from Bob Boughner and Dale Tallon, things are changing with Joel Quenneville taking charge. With plenty of young competition for a bottom 6 center role including youngsters Henrik Borgstrom, Aleski Heponiemi and Juho Lammikko as well as Jean-Sebastien Dea and possibly seeing Denis Malgin moving back to center, Sheahan is the odd man out. However I would not be surprised if he is resigned. Chances of Coming Back: 60%
Julian Melchori- Melchori was signed as a depth option and fell out of favor with Thunderbirds coach Geordie Kinnear. With the Panthers boasting an impressive depth on defense in the bigs as well as Jacob MacDonald and Riley Stillman ahead on the depth chart, the Panthers have no need for Melchori. Chances of Coming Back: 1%
Vincent Praplan- After not finding a job in North America, Praplan is returning to his home country of Switzerland to play for SC Bern of the Swiss National League.
Maxim Mamin- Probably the biggest loss for the Panthers, Mamin fell out of favor with Bob Boughner and an impressive playoff performance for CSKA Moscow saw him resign with the KHL team for another 2 years. Mamin follows Adam Mascherin as the 2nd loss of the 2016 draft class for the Panthers.
Henrik Haapala- Haapala did not impress the Panthers in his 5 game stint and spent the past year in the swiss NL. Haapala has signed with the Finnish team Jokerit which is currently the only Finnish team in the KHL.
Ludwig Bystrom- Despite a solid season in the AHL, Bystrom was too far down the depth chart. Bystrom has signed with Karpat of the Finnish Liiga.
Who Should Stay
Denis Malgin- The Swiss center has been up and down through the organization since he was drafted but he does have solid NHL potential. Injuries and incompetent coaching have kept him out of the lineup and he has struggled away from his natural position of center. With Joel Quenneville helping him out, I think Malgin becomes the Panthers 4th line center next year and if he can stay healthy, look for him to break out. However this next season is crucial for Malgin. Contract: 1 year $1M AAV
Mackenzie Weegar- The former 7th round pick has been one of Florida’s best defensive defenders of late and although injuries have kept him out of the lineup a lot, Weegar has developed into Florida’s most reliable defender. With teaching from Joel Quenneville, the 25 year old’s ceiling is still the sky and with potential for a top 4 role, Weegar is an important piece of the future. Contract: 3 years $2.5M AAV
Ian McCoshen- Despite losing his job to Weegar, McCoshen is a solid defensive defender who will provide valuable depth for the Panthers. Contract: 1 year $900K AAV
Dryden Hunt- Hunt is a hard working guy and he has been one of Springfield’s best players. He is competing for a roster spot and like many others on this list, working under the legendary Coach Q can help Hunt reach his full potential. Contract: 1 year $950K AAV
Juho Lammikko- Lammikko was a solid defensive 4th line center for the Panthers last year. However he struggled to score. However, Lammikko like fellow Finn Henrik Borgstrom will probably hang out with Panther star Aleksander Barkov and Barkov’s friend Patrik Laine this summer and tips from Barkov who plays a similar style to Lammikko plus help from Coach Q can help Lammikko win a full time job. Contract: 2 years $950K AAV
Anthony Greco- Greco has been a solid player for the Thunderbirds and he is one of the fastest players in the world. Greco’s speed is gamechanging and his speed could help out the forecheck for Florida’s 4th line helping tire out opposing defenses weakening them for the Panthers top scoring threats. Contract: 2 years $925K AAV
Jayce Hawryluk- The long awaited arrival of Jayce Hawryluk finally happened and Hawryluk was a beast in the NHL. He irritated his opponents and had a solid 12 points in 42 games that saw him work with everyone from Vincent Trocheck to Riley Sheahan. Hawryluk has earned an NHL spot and will be a valuable part of Florida’s young bottom 6. Contract: 2 years $1.3M AAV
Thomas Schemitsch- Despite being low on the depth chart, the former 3rd round pick has been quietly good for the Thunderbirds. Schemitsch has NHL potential and with the loss of Ludwig Bystrom and the likely departure of Julian Melchori, Schemitsch will see increased playing time in Springfield which if he capitalizes on can result in him coming to the bigs. Contract: 1 year $735K AAV
Sam Montembeault- Montembeault finally made his NHL debut and was inconsistent. Despite strong outings such as the game where he singlehandedly led the Panthers to a shootout against the Islanders and a lengthy winning streak, he also had many games where he struggled such as the Toronto game. Montembeault is going to be on the team in the future but he isn’t ready to take over and the Panthers will likely sign someone. However, Montembeault is a crucial piece of the future. Contract: 2 years $1.5M AAV
Who Should Go
Michael Downing- The defender has struggled since signing as his game total over the last two years combined is less than his game total in his first year in the AHL. Downing has experienced injuries and has been the odd man out in Springfield.
Unsigned Players Whose Rights Expire This Offseason
Joe Wegwerth- Wegwerth was having a solid season for Notre Dame before an injury derailed his season. He had tied his career high of 11 points, only doing it in 12 games. Wegwerth’s rights expire on August 15th, 2019. The 2019 4th round pick will be eligible for the AHL. I think the Panthers should give Wegwerth a shot but I doubt he will be signed. Chances of Signing: 25%