The Florida Panthers returned much of their core from last season, which has resulted in an excellent start (they are atop the NHL at 13-2-3 as of this writing). However, they did lose a few contributors from the 2020-21 team who are now contributing to other teams. Five players who finished last season on the Panthers roster have logged ice time for different NHL teams this season. Let’s take a look at how each of them is doing thus far.
Juho Lammikko, Vancouver Canucks
Lammikko was selected 65th overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Panthers. The Finnish left winger/center played two seasons in Florida as a bottom-six forward. He appeared in 40 games during the 2018-19 season, registering six points (all assists). After playing in Finland and Russia in 2019 and 2020, he returned to Florida last year, signing a one-way, two-year contract on Nov. 25, 2020.
Lammikko played in 44 games for the Panthers during the Covid-shortened season, registering five points (four goals and one assist). On Oct. 10, the 25-year-old was traded to the Canucks with Noah Juulsen for Olli Juolevi. He has appeared in all 19 of Vancouver’s games thus far this season (mostly as a fourth-line center), tallying an assist. The Canucks are 6-11-2 so far, good for next-to-last in the Pacific Division.
Alex Wennberg, Seattle Kraken
A first-round pick (14th overall) by the Columbus Blue Jackets back in 2013, Wennberg played six seasons in Columbus before signing with the Panthers (general manager Bill Zito was in the Blue Jackets front office when Wennberg played there) prior to last season. He played in all 56 games for the Panthers, notching 17 goals and 12 assists. He also finished fourth in the NHL in shooting percentage (20.7 percent).
The 27-year-old forward signed a three-year deal with the expansion Seattle Kraken on July 28. He’s tallied 11 points (two goals and nine assists) through 18 games centering Seattle’s first line. Though he is now a front-line player, his new team isn’t doing quite as well as his old team, as the Kraken are last in the Pacific Division with a record of 5-12-1.
Anton Stralman, Arizona Coyotes
Stralman has played for six NHL teams during his 14-year career, including the Panthers, who signed him to a three-year deal prior to the 2019 season after he spent five years in Tampa. The veteran defenseman registered 19 points (five goals and 14 assists) in 69 games during the 2019-20 season and nine points (three goals and six assists) in 38 games during the 2020-21 season.
Stralman was traded by Florida to the Arizona Coyotes on July 26 with prospect Vladislav Kolyachonok and a 2024 2nd-round draft pick for a 2023 7th-round draft pick. The 35-year-old has two points (one goal and one assist) in 15 games for the Coyotes, who have the worst record in the NHL at 4-13-2.
Keith Yandle, Philadelphia Flyers
After nine seasons with the Coyotes and two with the Rangers, Yandle was traded by New York to the Panthers (who then signed him to a seven-year deal) prior to the 2016-17 season. The offensive-minded defenseman played in all 82 games during each of his first three seasons in Florida, tallying 41 points in 2016-17, 56 points in 2017-18, and a career-high 62 points in 2018-19.
Yandle played in 69 games during the 2019-20 season that was cut short by the pandemic, finishing with 45 points. He also had three points in four playoff games. He played in all 56 games last season, registering 27 points during the regular season and two points in three playoff games.
On July 15, the Panthers bought out the final two seasons of Yandle’s contract, and he signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers 13 days later. The 35-year-old, whose current streak of 938 consecutive regular-season games played ranks second all-time (behind Doug Jarvis’ 964), has five assists in 16 games for the Flyers, who are 8-5-3 (fourth in the Metropolitan Division).
Chris Driedger, Seattle Kraken
Drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the third round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Driedger mostly toiled in the minors before signing with the Panthers prior to the 2019-20 season. The goaltender got his first career NHL start on Nov. 30, 2019, shutting out the Nashville Predators. He finished the season with a 2.05 goals-against average (GAA) and .938 save percentage (SV%) in 11 starts.
Splitting time with Sergei Bobrovsky, Driedger started 23 games last season, finishing the regular season with a 2.07 GAA and .927 SV%. He appeared in three postseason games, giving up eight goals in 139:44 of ice time. With the emergence of Spencer Knight and the continued presence of Bobrovsky, the Panthers exposed Driedger to the expansion draft, where the Kraken selected him. The 27-year-old currently serves as the backup to Philipp Grubauer. He has played in three games for Seattle this season, giving up four goals in each of his two starts (both losses).
There aren’t necessarily any players the first-place Panthers are sorely missing, but there are former key contributors who are making their way elsewhere in the NHL this season. A couple (Lammikko and Wennberg) are forwards getting more ice time than they did in Sunrise, a couple (Stralman and Yandle) are seasoned defensemen providing veteran presences, and one (Driedger) is a late bloomer hanging on as a backup goalie.
Grant is a freelance writer covering the Florida Panthers and Columbus Blue Jackets for THW. He started his own sports blog (Head in the Game) in 2013 and worked in the sports information department while at Trine University, from where he graduated in 2019. You can follow Grant on Twitter @G_Tingley.