Panthers Mailbag: Trade Deadline, Injuries & More

With the NHL Trade Deadline on the horizon today and the Florida Panthers on their way to a run to a possible Stanley Cup, and here at The Hockey Writers, we have the answers. A lot of interesting scenarios are in the realm of possibility for the 3:00 p.m. trade deadline, but what do fans want to happen and what do we think will happen? Find out here.

What on Earth Is the Team Going To Do About Sergei Bobrovsky’s Contract and the Spencer Knight/Chris Driedger Debacle?

Question from @GinAndJuuse on Twitter

The Knight/Driedger situation could possibly be solved at the deadline if the Panthers are able to find the right deal. With Driedger’s trade value at its highest point, the Panthers could, in theory, cash out on that value and use what they get to upgrade another position at the deadline.

Chris Driedger Florida Panthers
Chris Driedger, Florida Panthers (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the Nikita Gusev signing and the Brandon Montour trade, it should be interesting to see whether or not the Panthers cash in on the assets they get to make another big move today, but it is entirely possible that Knight assumes the backup role following a trade today.

As for the Bobrovsky contract, that is a bit trickier. It would be harder to convince a team to take that contract on, and with a No Movement Clause attached, it’ll be even harder. The Panthers will be forced to protect him in the upcoming expansion draft, so unless they get him to waive that clause, that’s out of the question. The Panthers would also likely have to give up draft capital to get rid of his contract, so if it gets bad, they might have to give him the Rick DiPietro treatment and buy him out.

Given Knight’s inexperience, Bobrovsky will probably remain a Florida Panther for the next two or three years at the very least.

Who Do You Think Is Untouchable At the Trade Deadline?

Question from @jganzi

We can get the obvious names out of the way first: there is no way on Earth the Panthers move Aleksander Barkov or Jonathan Huberdeau at the deadline today. I don’t think that needed to be said, but it’s an obvious answer to this question.

Anton Lundell IFK Helsinki
#15 Anton Lundell of IFK Helsinki during the Liiga Regular Season match between IFK Helsinki and Assat Pori at Helsinki 2019 on March 14, 2019 in Helsinki, Finland. (Photo by Samuli Seila/IFK Helsinki)

As for prospects who have a realistic chance of ending up on the rumor mill who could be untouchable, Anton Lundell immediately comes to mind. At 19 years old, the kid is putting up 16 goals and 25 points in 26 games against grown men in Finland’s Liiga.

He can possibly end up joining the Panthers next year and being an immediate fix to the hole that the loss of Vincent Trocheck left down the middle. Grigori Denisenko and Knight are also likely untouchable, as both of them are highly touted prospects who are on the brink of making the NHL.

Likely, most players on the roster aside from guys like Alexander Wennberg and Driedger, who could be used to get an upgrade, would be untouchable. Picks and prospects will likely be what the Panthers trade if they do decide to make another move at the deadline.

Any Thoughts on Filling the Hole With Aaron Ekblad Out?

Question from @secrtgrl_68 on Twitter

Bill Zito made two big moves to help ease the pain of losing Ekblad slightly, trading for Montour and signing Matt Kiersted from the University of North Dakota.

With those two moves in the rearview mirror, it seems unlikely that the Panthers add any more defensemen at the deadline unless they move on from a guy like Anton Stralman in a separate move or even in a swap. It seems like those are the two guys that Zito and Joel Quenneville believe can fill that void.

If either of those two options isn’t viable, Keeper is also another player who can play some minutes on defense who is on the taxi squad. It seems like Zito has found his group and is going with a next-man-up approach.

Ekblad will likely not be able to return until late June, which means he is likely out until the Stanley Cup Final, the Panthers better hope their strategy for replacing him works out.

What Are Your Thoughts on Coach Q and the Impact That He Has Had On the Team? Do You Think That He Is the Reason They Have Elevated Level of Play?

Question from @kknopp

Coach Q is definitely one of a few factors that have led to the Panthers being the team they are now. His winning experience, the way he gets the best out of his players, and his tactics have brought the Panthers a lot further along than they have in the past few years.

Joel Quenneville Florida Panthers
Joel Quenneville, Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The difference between Quenneville and Bob Boughner is night and day. When Boughner was the head coach, he didn’t get the buy-in from his players. A lot of times, players simply didn’t care enough to give it their all on the defensive end, and that led to some rough seasons.

With Quenneville, the Panthers have someone who motivates them to win, someone who knows what it takes to win, and someone who knows how to develop players.

I think Zito deserves a lot of credit for how far along this team has come too. His acquisitions of Carter Verhaeghe, Anthony Duclair, and Patric Hornqvist deserve a lot of praise. He found the right players to fit into the system, and I think they both deserve credit.

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