Panthers Made Horrible Mistake With Trocheck Trade

During last year’s trade deadline, the Florida Panthers made a horrific trade that they are surely regretting now. They sent All-Star center Vincent Trocheck to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark, Eetu Luostarinen, and Chase Priskie.

With the Panthers in the playoff race who now have to face the Hurricanes in their division, giving up Trocheck for such a pedestrian return has come back to bite the Panthers. Here’s why.

What the Panthers Missed Out On

Trocheck has reached a whole new gear this season, scoring 16 goals and 34 points in 31 games for the Hurricanes. Those totals would rank him third in both categories on a Panthers team that is desperate for help down the middle and depth scoring.

Vincent Trocheck Panthers
Vincent Trocheck, former Florida Panther Oct. 17, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

One thing that Trocheck brings that is hard to find is his 200-foot game. Even at 5-foot-10, 183 lbs, he can use his quickness and skill with the stick to force turnovers and bring the puck the other way. He can then burst into the offensive zone and get into a position to score.

Trocheck ranks sixth in Panthers history in shorthanded goals with seven. That’s tied with captain and penalty kill wunderkind Aleksander Barkov, by the way. He is effective at both ends of the ice.

Take this goal he scored against Florida for example. He started the play with a beautiful bank pass in the defensive zone around Radko Gudas to feed Martin Necas. He then bursts up the ice, receives a pass at the point, and cruises right in for a beautiful goal with that wicked shot of his.

He is a great playmaker, a great shooter, and a great skater, which would be the perfect asset for this Panthers squad that is primed for contention. Instead, he is playing for one of the Panthers’ biggest competitors, and that has come back to bite them.

In six career games against his former team, Trocheck has scored six goals and eight points, which has led Carolina to a 5-1-0 record against the Panthers this season. The Hurricanes could be a playoff opponent for the Panthers, which is bad news for them. But was what they got in return worth it?

What the Panthers Got in Return

When then-general manager Dale Tallon made the trade, he touted it as “a fair deal and something we should do not only for the present but for the future,” but in reality, the move did almost none of that. With the intentions of bolstering the team’s depth and acquiring prospects, Tallon failed in both aspects of the deal. The primary piece of the deal, Erik Haula, only lasted seven games in Florida, registering two assists before signing with the Nashville Predators in the offseason.

Lucas Wallmark, another key piece to the deal, only played seven games as a Panther as well, also only registering two points, including a goal. He was not tendered as a restricted free agent before management re-acquired him in the trade that sent Brett Connolly to the Chicago Blackhawks.

22-year-old center Eetu Luostarinen has the most games under his belt with the team, but his production has been less than promising. In 41 games as a Panther, he scored just three goals and eight points, having nowhere near the impact Trocheck could’ve had if they had just held on to him last year.

The last piece of the deal, Chase Priskie is a 25-year-old defenseman who has yet to see NHL action. Yikes.

The Panthers acquired four players in this trade, and they somehow managed to strike out on every single one of them, which is impressive considering the talent they gave up in this deal. They didn’t add much of anything to their roster other than some AHL-level talent and called it a day.

If they had kept Trocheck, they might be Stanley Cup favorites, but instead, they are fighting for a spot against an All-Star center that they virtually gave up for free.

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