In the 25 years since the Florida Panthers became a franchise, their 10 general managers have made a lot of trades. As an expansion team for the 1993-94 season, they made 16 trades in their first year alone. Some of these early trades made an impact as the team finished one point outside the playoffs in their inaugural season and reached the Stanley Cup Final in their third season.
Like every team, the Panthers have a history of making successful and unsuccessful trades. In some instances, they were the clear victors by acquiring the most talented player. In others, they were on the losing side of the ledger, the result of either giving up a talented young player or by not receiving enough value relative to what they gave up.
These are the best and worst trades in Panthers history and yes, Roberto Luongo appears on the list more than once. They are not ranked, but instead are organized in chronological order starting with the most recent deal.
Trades Won by the Panthers
Jaromir Jagr Takes the Mullet to Florida
The Panthers acquired the 42-year-old Jaromir Jagr from the New Jersey Devils at the 2015 Trade Deadline. They sent two draft picks in return – a 2015 second rounder and 2013 third rounder. He played 20 games for the Panthers the remainder of the 2014-15 season and scored six goals and 18 points. A free agent at season’s end, he re-signed with Florida for the 2015-16 season, led them with 66 points, and won the Masterton Trophy.
Of Jagr’s 66 points, 50 occurred at five-on-five, fourth-most in the league, and he helped guide the Panthers to the postseason for the first time since 2012. In total, he scored 49 goals and 130 points in 181 games as a Panther.
The Panthers gave up little to acquire Jagr and the Devils traded both picks to acquire Kyle Palmieri from the Anaheim Ducks, who again traded the picks. The 2015 second was used by the New York Rangers to select forward Ryan Gropp, who is in the AHL. Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators used the 2016 third rounder on forward Rem Pitlick, who currently plays for the University of Minnesota.
This trade was a solid win for the Panthers. Even if Gropp and Pitlick develop into productive NHL players, neither are likely to match Jagr’s impact on the Panthers. And if Jagr’s on-ice contributions weren’t enough, his work ethic has affected and will continue to affect Florida’s young players moving forward.
Bobby Lou Returns to Sunrise
Roberto Luongo’s second stint with the Panthers began at the 2014 Trade Deadline when Florida re-acquired him from the Vancouver Canucks. He was 34 at the time and played seven-plus seasons with the Canucks. He had eight years left on his deal with a $5,333,333 cap hit, of which Vancouver retained $800,000 per year.
Before the deal, Luongo had a 2.38 goals against average (GAA) and .917 save percentage (SV%) in 42 games. In 14 games following the trade, he had a .924 SV% and 2.46 GAA. In 255 games after returning to Sunrise, he had a 2.57 GAA and a .918 SV%. He retired after the 2018-19 season. The Panthers also acquired forward Steven Anthony in the deal. He was 22 at the time and never reached the AHL. He retired after the 2016-17 season.
To acquire Luongo and Anthony, the Panthers sent goaltender Jacob Markstrom and center Shawn Matthias back. Markstrom was the main attraction for the Canucks. He was 24 at the time with an .898 SV% and 3.21 GAA in 43 career games and was acquired to be Vancouver’s franchise netminder. But it hasn’t worked that way with a .911 SV% and 2.71 GAA in 126 games with the Canucks.
Matthias was 26 at the time and had 97 points in 312 games with the Panthers. Meanwhile, with Vancouver, he registered 34 points in 96 games. He was a Canuck for one full season before he left via free agency in 2015. Considering that Matthias wasn’t in Vancouver long and Markstrom hasn’t panned out, the Panthers acquisition of Luongo was a win for them.
Acquiring Brian Campbell from the Chicago Blackhawks
The Panthers acquired defenseman Brian Campbell from the Chicago Blackhawks one season after he won the 2010 Stanley Cup with them. The June 2011 trade was part of Chicago’s purge of expensive contracts as Campbell’s deal had a cap hit of $7,142,875 and five years remaining when the trade occurred.
In Campbell, the Panthers acquired a player who anchored their defense for five seasons from 2011-12 through 2015-16 and never averaged less than 22 minutes per game. In 2011-12, his first in Florida, he finished seventh in Norris Trophy voting and won the Lady Byng Trophy. As a Panther, he had 28 goals and 175 points in 376 games and guided them to two postseasons, in 2012 and 2016. As a free agent after the 2015-16 season, he returned to Chicago for one season before retiring in 2017.
Florida sent 25-year-old Czech forward Rostislav Olesz to the Blackhawks in the trade. He played parts of six seasons with the Panthers and accumulated 132 points in 349 games with them. He went pointless in six games with the Blackhawks and missed the entire 2012-13 season with a knee injury. He signed with New Jersey for the 2013-14 season and has played in Europe since.
This trade is interesting because it was a win for both clubs. The Panthers received a defenseman who was their top blueliner for years. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks parted with Campbell’s contract to free up cap space which helped them win Stanley Cups in 2013 and 2015.
Panthers Take Advantage of Mike Milbury Stealing Luongo & Jokinen
Mike Milbury made a lot of bad trades as GM of the New York Islanders. One of his worst was the June 2000 trade when he dealt Luongo and Olli Jokinen to Florida for forwards Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish.
Luongo had just 24 games under his belt at the time with a .904 SV% and 3.25 GAA, but was great during his first stint with the Panthers with a .920 SV% and 2.67 GAA in 317 games. He was a 2004 Vezina Trophy finalist and his initial tenure in Florida sparked his Hall of Fame career. The Panthers dealt him to Vancouver after the 2005-06 season.
Jokinen was 21 at the time and played one season with the Islanders with 11 goals and 21 points in 82 games. He was a Panther for seven seasons and scored 188 goals and 419 points. He became and remains the franchise leader in goals, points, even strength goals, game-winning goals, and offensive point shares. He was also their captain from 2003 to 2008 when the Panthers traded him to the Phoenix Coyotes.
For the Islanders, both Kvasha and Parrish had some success with the team. Both stayed with the Islanders over four seasons and helped the team qualify for three postseasons before each was traded. Kvasha peaked in 2003-04 with a career-high 15 goals and 51 points. Two years later, the Islanders traded him to the Coyotes and he’s been in Russia since 2006.
Parrish, a fan favorite, had 118 goals and 214 points in 345 games on Long Island, including a 30-goal campaign in 2001-02. The Islanders dealt him to the Los Angeles Kings in 2006 and he also played for the Minnesota Wild, Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Buffalo Sabres before retiring in Nov. 2012.
Trading for the Russian Rocket in 1999
Related: 10 Best Seasons in Panthers History
The first superstar acquired by the Panthers, Pavel Bure was 27 and in his prime when the Canucks dealt him on Jan. 17, 1999. The move was long overdue after he demanded a trade in Aug. 1998 and didn’t play for Vancouver all season. In total, he only appeared in 11 games during the 1998-99 season before a March 3 knee injury ended his season. He had 13 goals and 16 points in the 11 games.
But it was his 1999-00 and 2000-01 seasons, his only full seasons as a Panther, when he made his mark. He won the Rocket Richard Trophy and was an All-Star both seasons and was a Hart Trophy finalist in 2000. He led the team by 23 points in 1999-00 and by 55 in 2000-01 and those seasons remain two of the best in franchise history with a combined 117 goals and 186 points. In 2000, he led them to the postseason for the first time since 1995. The Panthers traded him to the Rangers on March 18, 2002.
The Panthers also acquired Brad Ference, Bret Hedican, and a 2000 third round pick in the deal. Ference, a defenseman, played parts of four seasons with Florida and scored four goals and 28 points before they traded him to Phoenix in 2003. Hedican, also a blueliner, stayed with Florida for three-plus seasons and scored 65 points before the Panthers traded him to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2002. Florida used the draft pick on Robert Fried, who never played professional hockey.
In order to acquire Bure, the Panthers gave up four players and a draft pick. Forward Mike Brown and defenseman Ed Jovanovski were both former first round picks of the Panthers. Brown played two seasons with the Canucks and was out of hockey after the 2005-06 season.
Meanwhile, Jovanovski, who was 22 at the time, played six-plus seasons with Vancouver and scored 57 goals and 234 points. He signed with the Coyotes after the 2005-06 season and finished his career by playing three more seasons with the Panthers before they bought out his contract after the 2013-14 season.
Dave Gagner and Kevin Weekes were the other two players the Panthers gave up. Gagner, a center, was in the twilight of his career when the trade occurred and he retired at season’s end. Weekes was a young netminder who had played in 11 games prior to the trade with an .870 SV% and 3.96 GAA. He played in 31 games as a Canuck with an .887 SV% and 3.19 GAA before Vancouver traded him to the Islanders in June 2000.
The pick the Panthers sent was a 2000 first rounder that the Canucks used on center Nathan Smith. He debuted during the 2003-04 season and didn’t register a point in four games with Vancouver. He left the Canucks organization in 2007 and played for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Wild before he retired after the 2011-12 season.
Although they never won a Cup with Bure, he is the most talented player to ever don a Panthers jersey. He scored 152 of his 437 career goals with them and they wouldn’t have come close to the 2000 Playoffs had he not been present. Jovanovski was a big piece going back in the deal, but his impact never rivaled that of Bure with the Panthers.
Trades the Panthers Got Hosed On
Giving Up Future 15-Goal Scorer Zach Hyman for Greg McKegg
In June 2015, the Panthers acquired Greg McKegg from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Zach Hyman in a swap of centers. At the time of the trade, both were 23. Hyman had just completed his senior year at the University of Michigan when he scored 22 goals and 54 points while McKegg had 22 goals and 37 points with the Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.
Hyman made his NHL debut in 2015-16, played 82 games each of the past two years, and has averaged .41 points per game (P/G) in his NHL career. He set career highs with 15 goals and 40 points last season and has emerged as an effective penalty killer. He is signed through the 2020-21 season with a $2.25 million cap hit. McKegg totaled 46 games with the Panthers and scored five goals and eight points. In Feb. 2017, the Lightning claimed him off waivers and he spent last season with the Penguins and in the Hurricanes’ system.
Considering Hyman has been a solid middle-six forward the last two seasons and has a contract for three more seasons while McKegg has played for three teams since the trade was completed, this trade is a no-brainer loss for the Panthers.
Acquiring Kris Versteeg for a Pick That Became Shayne Gostisbehere
The Panthers landed right winger Kris Versteeg from the Philadelphia Flyers on July 1, 2011 and gave up second and third round picks in 2012 to complete the move. Versteeg appeared in 99 games over three seasons with Florida and scored 27 goals and 65 points. He missed the majority of the 2012-13 season with knee and chest injuries and in Nov. 2013, the Panthers traded him to the Blackhawks, with whom he won the 2010 Stanley Cup, for Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen. Hayes was used to acquire Reilly Smith from the Boston Bruins.
The 2012 second rounder Florida sent to the Flyers was flipped to the Lightning in Feb. 2012. The Flyers kept the third round pick and used it on defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. He became a Flyer regular during the 2015-16 season and finished runner-up in Calder Trophy voting that year. He had a career-high 65 points last season with 33 occurring on the power play. The Flyers signed him to a six-year, $27 million extension in June 2017.
To summarize, the Panthers received just over a full season worth of games from Versteeg and traded him to Chicago. Meanwhile, the Flyers drafted Gostisbehere, a franchise defenseman who is locked down through his prime with a $4.5 million cap hit. He’d look really good on Florida’s blue line this season had they kept the pick.
Sending Luongo to Vancouver for Todd Bertuzzi
The third and final time Luongo’s name appears on this list was when the Panthers traded him to Vancouver on June 23, 2006. Florida’s return was not pretty with forward Todd Bertuzzi, defenseman Bryan Allen, and goaltender Alex Auld coming back.
Luongo was 27 at the time and had a .920 SV% and 2.67 GAA in over 300 games during his first stint with the Panthers. He was a one-time All-Star and Vezina Trophy finalist for the 2003-04 season. He played in 448 games with the Canucks and averaged a .919 SV% and 2.36 GAA. He was a one-time All-Star and Jennings Trophy winner, a two-time Vezina Trophy finalist, and a 2007 Hart Trophy finalist. He also backstopped them to six postseasons, including the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
In addition to Luongo, the Panthers also sent defenseman Lukas Krajicek and a 2006 sixth round pick to Vancouver. Krajicek was 23 and stayed with Vancouver for two seasons and had 27 points before they traded him to the Lightning in 2008. The Canucks used the draft pick on winger Sergei Shirokov, who played in eight NHL games before returning to Russia.
Bertuzzi was a 31-year-old winger who, in 518 games with the Canucks, had 188 goals and 449 points. He played in just seven games with Florida as a herniated disc hindered his playing ability. The Panthers traded him to the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 27, 2002 for Shawn Matthias, who was coincidentally used by Florida to re-acquire Luongo in 2014.
Allen was a defensive defenseman who had 14 goals and 32 points in 216 games with the Canucks. He didn’t find his scoring touch in Florida either with 14 goals and 67 points in 284 games. The Panthers traded him to the Hurricanes at the 2011 Trade Deadline. Finally, Auld played just 27 games with the Panthers with a sub-.900 SV% before he signed with Phoenix during the 2007 offseason.
Given how good Luongo was during his tenure in Vancouver and how poor Florida’s goaltending was in his absence apart from Tomas Vokoun, it’s not unthinkable that the Panthers could have won a Stanley Cup had they kept him. Not only did they lose Luongo, but they also only got 318 total games from the players they acquired in the trade.
Trading Away Dan Boyle for a Fifth Round Pick
Defenseman Dan Boyle was a hall of very good player in his career. He finished with 605 points in 1,093 games, was a two-time All-Star, and finished top-five in Norris Trophy voting twice. He was also instrumental in winning the 2004 Stanley Cup and regularly played more than 25 minutes per game in the playoffs. Unfortunately, for the Panthers, none of that happened with them.
That’s because on Jan. 7, 2002 the Panthers traded him when he was 25 to the Lightning for a 2003 fifth round pick. He was a Panther for three-plus seasons and averaged .30 P/G in 129 games. He played with Tampa Bay for over five seasons and had a .64 P/G in 394 games. It was with them that he had the successes listed above. The Lightning traded him to the San Jose Sharks in July 2008.
The Panthers used the fifth rounder on defenseman Martin Tuma out of the Czech U20 league. After the draft, he played with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL and never reached the NHL. He returned to Europe after the 2006-07 season.
Sending Barnes and Woolley to Pittsburgh for Wells
In one of their earliest trades as a franchise, the Panthers sent center Stu Barnes and defenseman Jason Woolley to the Penguins for center Chris Wells in Nov. 1996. Originally a Winnipeg Jets draft pick, the Panthers acquired Barnes in 1993. In two-plus seasons with Florida, he had 49 goals and 121 points in 191 games and helped them reach the 1996 Stanley Cup Final.
After the trade, he played in 204 games as a Penguin and scored 67 goals and 136 points. He also played for the Sabres and Stars in his career and his teams reached the postseason every year between 1996 and 2007 excluding 2002.
Woolley was a 27-year-old blueliner whom the Panthers had signed as a free agent in 1995. In 89 games as a Panther, he had 10 goals and 47 points. With the Penguins, he had six goals and 36 points in 57 games and also played for the Sabres and Red Wings, helping the former reach the 1999 Stanley Cup Final.
Wells, Florida’s return in the deal, was 21 and had four points in 54 games with Pittsburgh, who drafted him 24th overall in 1994. He stayed with the Panthers four-plus seasons and scored 25 points in 141 games. The 1999-00 season was his last in the NHL and he retired from professional hockey after the 2004-05 season.
Still Up in the Air
Parting with Three Draft Picks to Land Mike Hoffman
The most recent trade on the list, this one has the potential to either turn out positive for the Panthers or be a disaster. On June 19 of this year, the Panthers acquired winger Mike Hoffman from the Sharks for three draft picks – fourth and fifth round picks in 2018 and a 2019 second. This trade occurred after the Sharks acquired Hoffman from the Ottawa Senators earlier that day.
Hoffman is a talented hockey player who has three 25-goal seasons in his career, including a career-high 29 in 2015-16, and often played on below average Senators teams. With the center talent the Panthers have in Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck, Hoffman could develop into a consistent 30-goal scorer, quite a bargain given his $5.18 million cap hit. That’s the upside. The downside is the drama that followed him around this summer follows him to Florida.
The Panthers also acquired a 2018 seventh round pick in the deal which they used on six-foot-three defenseman Santtu Kinnunen of the Jr. A SM-Liiga in Finland. The Sharks traded both 2018 draft picks to the Montreal Canadiens, who used the fourth rounder on left wing Jack Gorniak and flipped the fifth round selection to the Blackhawks.
The true result of this trade won’t be known until the 2019 Entry Draft when the second round pick Florida sent to San Jose is used. If the pick ends up being early in the second round, the Panthers could lose the trade. However, with Hoffman’s potential and the talent that will surround him in Florida, it will most likely be a win for the Panthers.
*All stats from Hockey-Reference
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My name is Kyle, and although I’m from Pennsylvania and grew up a Penguins fan, I cover the Predators here at The Hockey Writers. And while I would consider myself a Predators fan, I really enjoy watching all hockey and try to always take an objective approach to things. In addition to covering the Preds, I write hockey history and some statistical analysis pieces as well as book reviews.