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Big Game Tonight, TDL Dust Has Settled

February 27, 2020, 9:06 AM ET [35 Comments]
Matt Ross
Florida Panthers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The dust has settled from another trade deadline and like every year, many fans are split.

Some see the moves as good, while others see it in the total opposite light.

We have no way of knowing what goes on behind closed doors, what was proposed/offered to Florida and by them. What deals fell through, etc. The lid is so tight on this information that we become armchair GMs as we form our own opinions.

I was more disappointed than anything. I personally didn’t mind the Trocheck trade at all. I think injuries hampered him the past couple seasons and he struggled to be that spark plug he had been in years past. I sometimes felt like his compete wasn’t where it needed to be and it looked like he was kind of going through the motions – which could have been a product of the injuries. It sort of felt like his time with the Panthers was running out and I actually think a change of scenery will do him good. Plus, the Cats needed to kind of shake things up anyway with the right move (or at least I had hoped).

So I was fine with the move…but I wasn’t crazy about the return.

I’m down with getting stronger down the middle with Haula and Wallmark. Toss in a couple of promising prospects? Cool. Why not?

But everyone knew Florida desperately needed a defenseman (or two).

Obviously that wasn’t coming from Carolina (who also needed to address their blue line), but I was hoping the target for moving a 2C like Trocheck - even with some of his current struggles - would have been to bring a piece to the backend.

It didn’t happen with that particular trade.

Fine. Still felt kind of weird, but fine.

I sort of assumed freeing up that Trocheck contract was the precursor for a bigger move. Heck, there was still plenty of TDL left. I held out hope for news of another move that would send a blueliner to Florida.

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock…the NHL Doomsday clock seemed to tick away. Like The Watchmen, “the end is nigh” for teams looking to improve their chances for a playoff push and long run.

Then came a move. A defenseman!

An AHL defenseman…

And just like that, the deadline was over. The major area that needed to be addressed, wasn’t. Then came the standard talk:

Don’t get me wrong I’m excited for the new guys coming in. There’s some talent there, but Florida is the perennial future team – always living in the hope of what’s to come and the potential of what could be. If ever there was a time to go big and buy into the present, it would be now.

Where was the moxie from this summer? That brazen attitude that we know what we need and we’re going to go out there and try and get it.

The confidence at the deadline was much different than the summer. It’s like they were frozen, timid – afraid to disrupt whatever balance they think they have going on right now.

Is it Tallon? The front office? Both?

It’s easy to blame Tallon. The GM is usually the scapegoat with these kinds of situations, but I think it’s most likely a combo, with Tallon probably being a bit handcuffed by the front office and cap.

Who knows? It’s still disappointing, especially when you see what teams like the Hurricanes did. Those guys knew they had a deficiency on the backend and addressed it with two defensemen.

I would have loved to see the Panthers really go for it this deadline and shake it up.


In fact, the game against AZ on Tuesday perfectly proved the need for defenseman (men). Sure, they got the W, but it wasn’t due to their recent acquisitions of Haula and Wallmark, though they had some nice energy.

Make no bones about it; Bob was the major reason for the win against he Coyotes. To his credit he really stepped up and bailed out atrocious defensive lapses time and time again.

There were multiple times the defense just flat out didn’t read the play in front of them – often leading to AZ forwards being able to get behind them and open up the ice for massive scoring chances. Sometimes the Panthers defensemen would be playing on the same side, leaving the opposite side wide open. Very frustrating.

Despite a number of the bad plays on the backend, there was some encouragement coming out of Stillman. He seemed to have a sense to not chase the puck, instead, choosing to take the body and separate the man from the puck. This is incredibly effective against a speedy/skilled team. Nice physical game from #61.

And So It’s Come to This

Tonight the Cats will host the Maple Leafs. It will be a showdown of two teams that have strangely found themselves in similar positions.

Both had very high expectations coming into the season. Both have highly touted offenses (though FLA has sputtered throughout the season). Both struggle mightily on the defensive side of things and in net. Both have nearly identical records (FLA = 33-24-6, TOR = 33-23-8). Both have changed hands with the third and fourth spot of the Atlantic Division multiple times.

The Hockey Gods seem to have planned this game perfectly. Toronto currently holds the last guaranteed playoff spot in the Atlantic and are two points ahead of Florida.

It’s a perfect scenario for a big game tilt!

We're going to need Bob to step up again tonight because I have a feeling these Leafs are going to be flying. The Cats have had their number the last two games they faced off and with the season winding down and the push for the playoffs fully on, I think the Leafs are going to be really ramped up…

I can’t wait.

Good News Department

According to Litter Box Cats the Panthers have assigned Driedger to the Springfield for a conditioning stint:

"The Florida Panthers have assigned goaltender Chris Driedger to the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds, on a conditioning loan.

Driedger, who began practicing recently. has missed 17 games with an lower-body injury.
The 25-year-old has appeared in nine games with Florida this season, registering a 5-2-0 record, a .932 save percentage, 2.35 goals against average and one shutout, which came in a 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators on November 30.

He has played in 14 games with the Thunderbirds, compiling a 6-8-0 record, a .938 save percentage and 2.09 goals against average. His save percentage was tops in the AHL when he was originally recalled."

Getting him back up to speed will be huge moving forward for the payoff push.


While I'm still kind of salty about the deadline, it's games like tonight that get me right back in the "zone" and ready for some hockey.

So get your cold ones cracked and your snacks ready. It's going to be a good one...

Go Panthers!


Quick breakdown of each new Cat via the Panthers site:

Haula (C)

"A versatile skater that can slot in either on the wing or at center, the 28-year-old veteran has posted 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists) in 41 games this season. Prior to being bitten by the injury bug, he broke out during the 2017-18 campaign with Vegas, reaching career-highs in goals (29), assists (26) and points (55).

Joining the Golden Knights via the expansion draft, Haula, who was shipped from Vegas to Carolina this past summer, was fan-favorite during the team's inaugural season in the desert. An integral part of the team's wild run to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, he notched three goals and six assists in 20 playoff games.

"Haula gives us some more speed and experience," Tallon said."

Wallmark (C)

"A fourth-round pick (97th overall) of the Hurricanes in the 2014 draft, the 24-year-old is in the midst of his second full season in the NHL. In 60 games, he's already set a new career-high in goals (11) and, with 23 points, has a good chance to surpass the career-best 28 points he recorded in 81 games in 2018-19.

Like Haula, Wallmark also had a long playoff run under his belt. As a rookie, he registered five points (one goal, five assists) in 15 playoff games to help Carolina reach the 2019 Eastern Conference Final."

Luostarinen (F)

"After spending the previous three seasons competing with KalPa Kuopio in Liiga -- the top professional league in his native Finland -- Luostarinen has made a smooth transition to North America this season. In 44 games with AHL Charlotte, the 21-year-old center had accumulated 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists).

Selected in the second round (42nd overall) in the 2017 draft, Luostarinen made his NHL debut on Nov. 7 and went on to record one assist in an eight-game stint with Carolina before being returned to the AHL.

At the 2019 IIHF World Championship, he helped Finland capture its first goal medal since 2011."

Priskie (D)

"A highly-coveted free agent coming out of college, Priskie joined the Hurricanes this past summer after spending four seasons at Quinnipiac University. A top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award in 2018-19, he ranked first in goals (17) and fifth in points (39) among Division I blueliners during his senior season.

In 52 games with AHL Charlotte this season, he recorded 31 points (six goals, 25 assists)."

Djuse (D)

"After going undrafted, Djuse signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Stars this past summer following a successful five-season stint in the SHL -- the top professional circuit in his native Sweden. In his final tour with Skelleftea AIK in 2018-19, he had a career-high 22 points while playing top-pairing minutes.

A left-shot defenseman, Djuse, who stands 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, has shown a lot of promise during his first season in North America. In 48 games with AHL Texas, he had 29 points (four goals, 25 assists).

"He's got good skill, good mobility, and he's a good call-up player," Tallon said."
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