General manager Bill Zito may have pulled the same magic he did when he acquired defenseman Gustav Forsling off of the waiver wire back in 2021. On Oct. 10, the Florida Panthers acquired former Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Mahura off of waivers. In his first seven games with the Cats, he has a rating of plus-6 and scored a goal. That has been a huge factor to their good start to the season at 4-2-1.
The third-round pick in 2016 hopes that his second chance with a new team works out for the best as he only had 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) through 79 games with Anaheim throughout four seasons. However, he has shown he has the talent as through 112 American Hockey League (AHL) games with the San Diego Gulls, he tallied 60 points (11 goals, 49 assists) over the course of three years.
Before he was drafted, he played in four seasons in the WHL with the Red Deer Rebels and the Regina Pats, piling up 131 points (41 goals, 90 assists) in 181 appearances. In 2015, he helped Canada claim a gold medal in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament in which he scored one goal in four games.
Mahura Will Be on a Team with Someone Just Like Him in Forsling
As previously mentioned, Forsling was another case of a waiver pick-up working out for the best and this may be Zito trying to go back to the wishing well in hopes of another wish granted. So far, Forsling has been arguably the best defenseman on the team this season as he’s stepping up in the absence of Aaron Ekblad due to a lower-body injury that has placed him on long-term injured reserve (LTIR).
Mahura was kind of thrown into the fire as he was put on the third line above some other candidates, including Lucas Carlsson and Matt Kiersted. In this sink-or-swim environment, he seems to be doing just fine.
Mahura Will Feel Like He Never Left the Beaches
Keep in mind, Mahura is coming to South Florida after four seasons on the beaches of Southern California with the Anaheim Ducks.
The climates in each are not too different from one another, so it is as if he never left Anaheim and he has a better team around him this year.
Mahura is Already Phenomenal With Radko Gudas
Chemistry seems to be already coming together for Mahura once he was paired up with the “Butcher” in Radko Gudas. In a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 19, they owned a combined Corsi For percentage (CF%) of 64.62% and over 34 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time. Additionally, the pairing has an expected goals against of 1.2 per 50 minutes of ice time.
“They were smooth straight through,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said of the pair. “They were hard on pucks and I didn’t see any signs of them wearing down. They scored an awfully big goal for us. They were good tonight, and they look like they’ve got some chemistry with the way they’re reading off each other. That’s a really good sign for us.”Paul Maurice on the Josh Mahura and Radko Gudas Pairing against the Flyers on Oct. 19
Hopefully, the defensive pair continues to play magical in the form of a deep playoff run for Florida after their crazy and turbulent offseason.
Is Mahura the Missing Link to Success for Florida?
In his short time in Florida, Mahura has already made an impact. As a result, he’s given Maurice someone to rely on if injuries continue to pile up on the defensive side of the puck as they were playing with only four defensemen on Oct. 17 against the Boston Bruins. In addition, Brandon Montour also missed a couple of games with a lower-body injury.
Once again, Zito went to the waiver wire and managed to walk away with magic. And with everything going wrong in terms of defensive injuries and special team woes, this is the blessing that everyone was looking for at just the right time.