Looking back on the Panthers’ 2014 deadline deals
With one week until the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline, the Florida Panthers are running out of time to decide whether or not they will be buyers or sellers come 3 p.m. ET on March 2.
In possession of four pending unrestricted free agents in Tomas Kopecky, Tomas Fleischmann, Scottie Upshall and Sean Bergenheim, the Panthers are expected to be very active on deadline day as they attempt to stockpile picks and prospects without impairing their current playoff push.
Last season, the Panthers made six deals on or around the trade deadline in which they acquired five players and three draft picks while dealing six players and two picks of their own.
As Florida prepares for yet another hectic deadline day, here is a look back at how last year’s deals have panned out for the Panthers:
In a move that no one saw coming, the Panthers made a big splash when they reacquired goaltender Roberto Luongo from Vancouver in exchange for goaltender Jacob Markstrom and forward Shawn Matthias on the eve of the trade deadline.
Since the trade, Luongo has been everything that Florida had hoped for and more, backstopping the Panthers right into the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. Luongo, who is under contract through the 2021-22 season, is 22-15-10 with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in 48 games with the Panthers this season. He was also named to the 2015 NHL All-Star Game.
The Canucks, meanwhile, should be encouraged by the performances of both Matthias and Markstrom. Matthias, a pending unrestricted free agent, has notched 14 goals and 22 points in 57 games this season, including his first career hat trick on Feb. 13 against the Bruins.
Markstrom, once thought to be Florida’s goaltender of the future, has gone through somewhat of a career renaissance while playing for the Canucks’ American Hockey League affiliate in Utica. He was named to the 2015 AHL All-Star Game and has posted a 17-7-2 record with a 1.95 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.
In the end, both the Panthers and Canucks got what they wanted from this trade. Florida obtained the starting goaltender they’d been seeking while Canucks were able to shed Luongo’s cumbersome contract, which they will still pay 15 percent of throughout its duration.
This will be a trade that will certainly need to be revisited several years down the road, but for now it remains a win-win for both sides.
A faceoff ace and integral part of Florida’s run to the 2012 playoffs, the Panthers dealt Goc to the Penguins in exchange for two draft picks on deadline day.
A pending unrestricted free agent, Goc was unlikely to return to the Panthers during the offseason and the organization wisely traded the underrated center for future gains. Goc, 31, went on to play in 12 regular season and nine postseason games for the Penguins, notching three assists and 8 penalty minutes. He signed a one-year deal with Pittsburgh last summer, but was traded to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for forward Maxim Lapierre on Jan. 27.
The Panthers, meanwhile, used the 2014 fifth-round pick acquired in the trade to select forward Miguel Fidler out of Edina High School in Minnesota. Fidler, 18, is currently playing for the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League, but is committed to play collegiate hockey for Ohio State in the future.
From the start, the Panthers knew that a tandem of Thomas and Luongo would not work going forward and that the team would have to jettison the former Stanley Cup winner in order to avoid any internal issues within the locker room. Hoping to find an affordable goaltender with a backup mentality, the Panthers dealt Thomas to the Stars for journeyman goaltender Dan Ellis.
Ellis, 34, had previously played for the Predators, Lightning, Ducks, Hurricanes and Stars before arriving in Florida. In six appearances following the deadline, he posted a 0-5-0 record with an abysmal 4.81 goals-against average and a .836 save percentage. Unable to earn a vote of confidence from upper management, the Panthers signed goaltender Al Montoya during the offseason and sent Ellis to their minor league affiliate in San Antonio.
In San Antonio, however, Ellis has established himself as a reliable AHL starter this season. In 35 games with the Rampage, he’s posted a 22-10-3 record with a 2.66 goals-against average and .906 save percentage.
Thomas, meanwhile, would go on to play in eight games with the Stars after the deadline, posting a 2-4-1 record with a 2.97 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage. He was not re-signed during the offseason and, at 40 years old, his NHL career is more than likely over.
The backbone of Florida’s penalty killing unit during his four seasons with the Panthers, Weaver was shipped to Montreal in exchange for a fifth-round pick on the eve of the trade deadline.
Weaver, 36, would go on to play an important role in Montreal’s run to the Eastern Conference finals. In 17 playoffs games, he notched a goal and three assists while leading all Canadiens skaters in shorthanded ice time per game.
Florida, meanwhile, will have to wait to reap the rewards of this trade until the 2015 NHL Draft.
Looking back on this trade, it’s hard to believe that, despite his age and lack of offensive abilities, Florida couldn’t have gotten slightly better return for a player with Weaver’s experience and penalty-killing prowess.
Flying somewhat under the radar three days before last season’s deadline, the Panthers acquired Pirri from Chicago in exchange for two draft picks.
Pirri, the 59th overall pick in the 2009 draft, was once projected as the Blackhawks’ future No. 2 center, but struggled to gain a foothold in Chicago’s crowded lineup as questions surrounding his defensive abilities mounted.
Since his arrival to Florida, however, Pirri’s quick shot and ability to put pucks on net has quickly made him one of the team’s most valuable offensive weapons. In 49 games as a Panther, he has scored 16 goals and 25 points. Unfortunately, the 23-year-old forward’s second season in Sunrise has been hampered by multiple injuries, including a 10-game stint on injured reserve due to a concussion suffered against Arizona on Oct. 30.
Still, Pirri projects to be a staple of Florida’s top-six for years to come.
Like the Ellis deal, the effects of this trade have resonated more in the minor leagues rather than with the Panthers.
Mancari, 29, currently ranks second on the Rampage with 39 points in 53 games played while also serving as a veteran leader to the team’s young core.
Selleck, meanwhile, has recorded six goals, 17 points and 125 penalty minutes in 51 games for the AHL’s Portland Pirates this season.