Vincent Trocheck – Florida Panthers MVP?

The Florida Panthers won a huge game Thursday night in Boston when Vincent Trocheck assisted on the tying goal before scoring the winner in a 4-1 thumping of the Boston Bruins. And, it isn’t the first time that the 3rd round draft pick from 2011 has led the way for the Panthers this season.

Earlier in the week, Panthers GM Dale Tallon claimed Trocheck was the team’s saviour this season after taking over the second line centre spot when injuries struck earlier in the season.

With his two points last night, Trocheck  is now on a blistering pace as the Cats claw their way to a division title. In his last 10 games played, Trocheck has five goals and 12 points and is on pace for a 57 point season.

Vincent Trocheck Among the Elite

Trocheck is now in the top 50 in scoring in the NHL, joining fellow Panthers Jaromir Jagr and Jussi Jokinen and, if we dig a little deeper, we can see why. Points/60 at even strength is an excellent metric when assessing player value since power play points can artificially inflate a players’ overall points total considering that power play opportunities are variable and less reliable.

A quick look at that metric shows that Trocheck is 23rd in the league at 2.12 P/60 which puts him in the league of players like Vladimir Tarasenko (2.14) and Tyler Seguin (2.12).

It’s also worth noting that four other Panthers are in the top 30 5V5 including Jagr (2.53), Jokinen (2.24), Jonathan Huberdeau (2.09) and Jiri Hudler (2.06). That is remarkable since a rule of thumb is that elite players should be above 2.00 P/60 and there are currently only 42 NHL players at that level and above.

Before the Boston game, Trocheck was asked about his emergence and he credits learning how to play without the puck was the key.

“I don’t know if I would say I’m better now, I think I’m more complete,” Trocheck said. “I’m a more complete player.”

Trocheck is complete only because of his improvement on the defensive end.
The Panthers selected him in the third round of the 2011 NHL Draft knowing full well he had tremendous offensive upside. He had 135 points in 100 games in his last two seasons with Saginaw in the Ontario Hockey League. But he was far from complete.

“I spent time in the minors with Tom Rowe as my coach and he got on me for the ‘D’ zone, made sure he was watching video clips with me,” Trocheck said. “Coming into this season there was more focus toward that.”

That focus has made a major difference in Trocheck’s overall game, leading to Gerard Gallant’s unwavering confidence in him. Gallant said he trusts Trocheck, Jokinen and Smith to play against any line at any time in the game no matter the score.

The MVP Conversation

Jaromir Jagr leads the young Panthers in scoring with 56 points but, at his torrid pace, it’s conceivable Trocheck could make up the four point gap between them by the end of the regular season. Roberto Luongo with his 31-18-6-4 record and .922 save percentage would also merit consideration. But, if the verbal from Tallon, Gallant and his team mates is to be believed, Vincent Trocheck has a real shot at the award.

Trocheck is a restricted free agent at the end of the season and couldn’t have had a better contract year season as I’m sure he’ll be awarded a very nice raise going into next season. Not bad at all for a 3rd round draft pick.