Florida Panthers 2021-22 Season Recapby Jack Gaffney June 7, 2022 0 comments
From 1993 to 2021, the Florida Panthers had zero seasons having over 50 wins. This year, they fell just short of 60 and managed to win the Presidents’ Trophy by three points over the highly touted Colorado Avalanche. All this even after Joel Quenneville was ousted two weeks into the season as well. A Panthers team touting Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad, Anthony Duclair, and deadline prize Claude Giroux had legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations. They won just four total playoff games at the end of the day. Making things worse was that they were unceremoniously swept out of the postseason by the in-state rival Tampa Bay Lightning. After gambling future assets for a failed Cup run, where do the Panthers go from here?
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By the Numbers
Record: 59-18-6 (Presidents’ Trophy)
Power Play: 24.4% (5th)
Penalty Kill: 79.5% (16th)
Goals For: 337 (1st)
Goals Against: 242 (13th)
Not much of a surprise, but Jonathan Huberdeau gets the nod here. He ranked fourth in goals behind Barkov, Duclair, and Sam Reinhart, but put up a whopping 85 assists this season. Good for the league lead over Connor McDavid, Johnny Gaudreau, Roman Josi, and Artemi Panarin. Huberdeau was also good for a half-point a game in the postseason in 10 contests as well. Worth noting that he is set to hit the open market next year at 30 years old. That is of course if the Panthers don’t get to him before next year.
There is ultimately one reason why the Panthers aren’t currently in the Eastern Conference Finals, and that is their offense. Yes, it was the best in the league during the regular season by a wide margin. The postseason however is a different story. Their goals per game production was nearly cut in half over a 10-game sample size. Additionally, their power play reached an inexcusable level of bad. The Panthers got on the man advantage 31 times in 10 games and had one, count it, one power-play goal. This was a top-five team in the regular season on the power play as a reminder.
Behind the Bench Analysis
After the firing of Quenneville, Andrew Brunette took over coaching duties in Florida and steered the Panthers all the way to a 58-win campaign. Despite it being a justified firing given the circumstances, the situation in Florida had the chance to go off the rails in a big way. Brunette didn’t let that happen, and for that, he deserves some credit, even with the postseason scoring woes. Would imagine that the Jack Adams finalist gets the interim tag removed soon.
Front Office Analysis
General Manager Bill Zito didn’t exactly slouch around when it came to adding to this Panthers before and during the season. The acquisition of Reinhart at last year’s draft kicked things off. Zito followed up by dumping Anton Stralman‘s contract to Arizona, freeing up just north of five million dollars in cap space. However, giving them a future second-round pick in the process. Then Florida pushed all chips directly into the middle of the table by getting Giroux. Signing Duclair to a deal of three million dollars a year was also fantastic value for Florida. Getting Carter Verhaeghe for the next three years at four million dollars isn’t too shabby either.
2022 NHL Entry Draft Picks/Prognosis
The early portion of these next few drafts isn’t going to be kind to the Panthers. They will have six picks this year, but will not have a first or second-round selection. Seeing is Giroux is almost certainly gone, in addition to Huberdeau being a possible flight risk down the road, getting some forwards in the farm system should be priority one for Zito and the Panthers. They obviously won’t find an immediate impact NHL player in round three, but a player they can hold onto for a couple of seasons before getting the call-up would be big.
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