Panthers’ Owen Tippett Deserves Top-6 Opportunity

In the 2020-21 season, Owen Tippett showed flashes of greatness. During the playoffs, head coach Joel Quenneville trusted him to play on the second line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Sam Bennett, and it paid off tremendously. Tippet scored a goal and three assists for four points in the Florida Panthers’ six-game series loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The 2017 10th-overall pick scored seven goals and 18 points in 45 games last season, playing in the NHL full time for the first time in his career. At 22 years old, Tippett is in a position to break out and be a mainstay in a Panthers’ top six that is ready to make a deep playoff run.

What Makes Tippett the Perfect Top-Six Candidate

With Huberdeau’s playmaking ability and Bennett’s net-front presence, the Panther’s second line could use a sniper. Tippett is the perfect candidate, as he has proven to be a great shooter with high hockey IQ, being able to find the right areas for a playmaker of Huberdeau’s caliber to feed him the puck.

Owen Tippett Florida Panthers
Owen Tippett, Florida Panthers Oct. 17, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Standing at 6-foot-1, 207 pounds, Tippett has the size to get physical when he needs to while possessing great speed, being able to create offense on his own when he gets the opportunity. Putting that type of player alongside Huberdeau would work wonders for the Panthers.

We saw the duo work well for Florida in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, with Huberdeau playing some of his best hockey alongside Tippett. During that six-game series, Huberdeau had two goals and eight assists for 10 points on that line alongside Tippett and Bennett.

One of the best examples of his offensive abilities is on full display during the play below. He starts the play applying pressure in the offensive zone, forcing the Lightning to make a neutral zone turnover. Huberdeau then takes the puck and makes a beautiful move to beat the defense, while Tippett finds some open space in front of the net to deposit the puck in the back of the net.

His aggressiveness in the offensive zone makes him a dangerous player and one that could create more opportunities for a player of Huberdeau’s caliber — in the process, Tippett could develop into another great young player to add to Florida’s deep roster.

While the Panthers did add more forward depth to their roster by trading for and re-signing Sam Reinhart and retained some competition in Anthony Duclair after agreeing to a three-year contract this summer, Tippett still very much has a chance to be in that top six, and for good reason. Reinhart would likely take Mason Marchment’s spot on the top line alongside Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe, leaving Duclair and Tippett to battle for that last spot in the top six. The Panthers played Tippett over Duclair in the top six before after a cold streak struck Duclair late in the season, and they certainly can do so again next season.

Tippet has a higher upside and has proven to work very well alongside Huberdeau, so Quenneville can’t go wrong with having him in the top six.

What to Expect From Tippett In 2021-22

With Tippett playing a full season alongside Huberdeau, it’s entirely possible for him to make the leap to the prime goal scorer Panthers fans saw him as when he was drafted in 2017. Huberdeau would open up a lot of space for Tippett to work with, and with his ability to take advantage of open space, it will be a match made in heaven.

The 22-year-old could possibly score around 25 goals next season, playing an important role in the Panthers’ offense. His playmaking could also develop quite nicely with two linemates who are pretty good at putting the puck in the back of the net in their own right, possibly giving Tippett 35 assists for a point total of 60.

For a player who only scored eight goals and 19 points in 52 career games, 60 points is a huge jump, but considering all of the factors that would be working in Tippet’s favor, it’s not unreasonable. He has shown time and time again that he has the tools to reach those heights, and with an elite linemate like Huberdeau, there’s nothing stopping him from making it happen.

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