Just Say No: Panthers Potential Trade with Toronto

There are myriad trade rumors as the 2014 NHL Draft approaches and there is a possibility if one of said rumors becomes a reality, it could be disastrous for the Florida Panthers. GM Dale Tallon has no made no secret of the fact that he’s considering offers for their first overall pick, and blogger Howard Berger had an interesting idea when he posted his thoughts on June 2nd: The  Panthers could trade team Captain and HUGE home town favorite Ed Jovanovski as well as their first round pick for Toronto’s 8th overall pick, defenseman Dion Phaneuf and the young but talented Nazem Kadri.

A knee-jerk reaction on both sides might be an incredulous, WHAT?! Why would Toronto want an almost 38-year-old player rife with injuries, even in exchange for a first overall pick? And why would Florida even consider yet another young player along with a defenseman that’s more of a bruiser than a scorer? No matter how you look at it, it’s abundantly clear that this is probably just not the right move. For anyone.  And the reasons for the Panthers are actually pretty straight-forward.

A Simple Solution

The team’s needs are somewhat obvious but they can be spelled out: a veteran who can give the young players leadership (which is covered right now in Jovanovski–who does it well when he’s not hurt–along with 35-year-old Brian Campbell who put up the team’s second-highest number of points and goalie Roberto Luongo) and one or two solid forwards who can put points on the board. It’s actually a very, very simple formula.

In a nutshell, 29-year-old Dion Phaneuf does not fulfill either of those needs. He’s more of a hard-hitting bruiser than a scorer. With a mere 8 goals and 23 assists, he’s just not what the Panthers need in the line-up. Despite Florida’s poor performance this season, their defense was solid. Between Jovanovski, Campbell, Tom Gilbert, rising star Dmitri Kulikov and the unmistakable presence of a 6’5″ Erik Gudbranson, the Panthers have more than enough defense.

Dion Phaneuf (Icon SMI)
Dion Phaneuf (Icon SMI)

Not to mention, Phaneuf comes with the stigma of being a hard hitter who borders on dirty. First was the 2009 hit on Kyle Okposo, where he all but vaulted at him as his teammates nudged Okposo right into the path of his elbow. Then there was the 2011 hit that essentially ended Michael Sauer’s promising career with the New York Rangers, causing a concussion he never recovered from. There was no penalty called and it may not have been intentional, but the Panthers are already floundering, so a player with baggage is most likely not leader material for a team this young, especially if his presence includes the loss of Jovanovski.

As for Kadri, the truth is that the Panthers already have more than enough young, raw talent. Kadri’s production (20 goals and 30 assists for the season) simply isn’t quite up to the level the Panthers need to get those numbers on the score board. At 23, he’s got a bright future, but the Panthers have been in something of a holding pattern with the young players they already have. Though he tallied 50 points , Kadri wasn’t even one of the top 75 scorers in the league this year (he’s actually listed as 90th), and the Cats need to reach a little higher a little sooner, because no one wants to follow a team that continues to lose.

What will it take for Nazem Kadri to stick with the Maple Leafs? (bridgetds, Flickr)
(bridgetds, Flickr)

No More Words

The time for behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing is rapidly coming to a close. Approximately a month since the regular season ended, this is a team without a coach, without a definitive plan and, if they don’t start thinking about the present, they’re not going to have much of a future. The time for five-year plans is over. They’ve been compiling talent and longevity for too long, with no results and a waning fan base. It’s time to break out the check book, use the leverage of a first-round draft pick and get this team its missing pieces. The need is simple, but the follow through appears to be decidedly more complicated.

One thing that isn’t complicated, though, is this potential trade with the Maple Leafs: Just. Say. No.



1 thought on “Just Say No: Panthers Potential Trade with Toronto”

  1. First off, I have to agree–this would be a bad trade for Florida, as well as the Leafs. I do disagree with some of the points you raised to get there, though.

    1. Phaneuf: Despite what the average Leafs fan says online, Phaneuf is a top-pairing Dman who regularly, year after year, faces the NHL’s toughest minutes while playing alongside a rotating cast of mostly AHL-quality partners. That, plus Carlyle’s poor DZ/breakout systems, has severely depressed his numbers. With Campbell on his flank, and with better support below him on the depth chart, Phaneuf could get up into the 15-20 goal elite rank for scoring blueliners.

    He does come with baggage, and his elbows are faster than his synapses. Adding Phaneuf means turning your team into a discount version of the Big Bad Bruins, and I don’t think that Florida has enough of those players to justify the shift.

    2. Kadri: Kadri would have been the top scorer on the Panthers, and this while spending much of the season in a “sophomore slump”. His rookie season obviously benefitted from an unsustainable shooting percentage, but even allowing for that (knocking his % down to 11.5%) he would have had a respectable 22 goals & 67 points over 82 games. Yes, he wouldn’t have been protected from tougher minutes by Kessel’s line, but he would have had a considerably better defence driving possession.

    (A side note: do you fans in FLA really appreciate how astonishingly good Campbell is at generating offence?)

    3. #8 Overall: While this is supposed to be a very egalitarian draft year, there are two tiers of players out there, according to most scouts. There’s 1-5, who can aspire to regional stardom but not superstardom, and 6-30, which is very deep in second-line players. If you’re bringing on youth (in Kadri) why are you bringing in inferior youth (in #8, compared to #1)?

    The Leafs do have pieces that could help Florida do what it signed on to do with the Luongo trade–Lupul, Raymond, Kulemin, even Clarkson could be useful on this team– why would you trade away #1 to get there? Raymond, Kulemin, and Grabovski are free agents who will all go for a final sum of under $13 million for all three. (Man, that could be a brilliant second line!) Why give up good assets for improvements that you could make by just opening a wallet?

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