The Florida Panthers are sitting atop the NHL standings and heading into the commerce deadline, that solely means one factor: they’re going to be consumers. With Aaron Ekblad out for the season and a whole lot of choices on the board that might bolster the ahead core, the ball is in Invoice Zito’s courtroom to make upgrades.
The commerce deadline is lower than per week away and groups are already dangling commerce bait round. With the Panthers loaded on picks and prospects, they need to be a vacation spot for a mess of the highest gamers in the marketplace. Listed below are three gamers the Cats could take a look at buying and selling for.
Rickard Rakell (C, Anaheim Geese)
One commerce that makes a whole lot of sense for the Panthers is buying and selling for Anaheim Geese heart Rickard Rakell. The 27-year-old has seven targets and 22 factors in 36 video games for the Geese and is on a team-friendly $3.9 million contract that expires in 2022. With the Geese in the midst of a rebuild, Rakell is on the commerce block and will slot in fairly properly on the Panthers’ roster.
The Panthers may use a bona fide second-line heart to play with Jonathan Huberdeau, and Rakell is simply the man they want down the stretch. When he’s scorching, he might be a really efficient choice, as he’s a two-time, 30-goal scorer in his profession, together with a 2017-18 season the place he totaled 34 targets and 69 factors.
Whereas he has dropped off since, he may discover a profession revival taking part in alongside Huberdeau and Patric Hornqvist, who’ve been two of the Panthers’ only gamers this season. However at what price would Rakell come at?
Given his favorable contract state of affairs, he might be some of the costly targets on the deadline. He would in all probability price the Panthers their 2021 first-round draft decide and heart prospect Henrik Borgstrom on the very least. Whereas that could be a steep value, it might be very a lot value it for Florida.
Sam Bennett (C, Calgary Flames)
Sam Bennett suits in on the Panthers’ roster equally to how Rakell suits, provided that Florida has a middle depth subject, however he does come at much less of a value. The 24-year-old has simply 4 targets and 10 factors in 37 video games this season, and he simply hasn’t panned out for the Calgary Flames since he was drafted fourth total within the 2014 NHL Draft. With a current commerce request filed, Bennett might be on his means out.
A change of surroundings might be to Bennett’s profit as a result of he has proven flashes of being a stable NHL participant, however issues simply haven’t labored out in Calgary. Whereas his common season totals haven’t seemed stellar (67 targets, 138 factors in 401 profession video games), his playoff numbers present bits and items of promise.
In 30 profession playoff video games, Bennett scored 11 targets and 19 factors, and he seemed actually good within the bubble playoffs final 12 months, scoring 5 targets and eight factors in 10 video games. With the Panthers trying to make a deep Cup run, Bennet’s playoff numbers may actually assist them.
However what wouldn’t it price to convey Bennett in? Given that he’s a restricted free agent after the season, Calgary appears prepared to maneuver on from their former top-five decide moderately than pay him, so he may come at a less expensive price than Rakell. My finest guess can be that the Panthers ship a third-round decide to Calgary for Bennett.
Josh Manson (D, Anaheim Geese)
The Geese seem on this checklist but once more, and this time it’s to present the Panthers an Ekblad substitute. With a season left on Josh Manson’s contract, the 29-year-old defenseman can play a task on the Panthers’ roster subsequent season, too.
Manson is usually a stable two-way defenseman when given the prospect, along with his finest season coming in 2017-18 when he scored seven targets and 37 factors in 80 video games, however his manufacturing has slowed down for the reason that Geese have fallen right into a rebuild. This season, in 13 video games, Manson has one objective and two factors.
With the precise facet of the Panthers’ protection skinny with out Ekblad, he ought to have ample alternative to return to type alongside MacKenzie Weegar on the highest pair. Alongside elite offensive abilities on the Panthers’ roster, his offensive numbers can see a renaissance whereas being a useful asset on the defensive finish.
As a possible return for Manson, the Panthers may ship Anaheim a bundle consisting of ahead prospect Patrick Bajkov, Samuel Montembeault, and a second-round decide.
Because the NHL Commerce Deadline approaches on April 12, the Panthers could possibly swing a deal for one in every of these gamers and switch themselves into a real contender.
Colby Man is a author for the Florida Panthers division right here at THW. He’s a junior at Florida Atlantic College and presently serves because the Editor In Chief for the varsity’s newspaper, the College Press. Beforehand, Colby has written for FanSided as a New York Islanders, Florida Panthers, and Nashville Predators author.
Colby grew up an Islanders fan and had season tickets earlier than transferring to Florida.