In a benevolent manner towards fans who have no original interest in the Stanley Cup play-off, the NHL held its draft lottery on Tuesday evening, which ended with the Montreal Canadians winning the first pick and the New Jersey Devils rising to second place from expected. Sixth position. Especially for these two fanbases, but also for anyone else who had a shot ahead of them, it was a day of dreaming the future, of possibilities. Yours Landing a franchise with someone like Austin Mathews, or Steven Stamcos — whose selection could almost immediately usher in a new, more successful era. The easiest night of the year to convince yourself that better things are coming.
The Florida Panthers are quite familiar with this experience, having missed the playoffs in all but two seasons from 2001 to 2019. Although the mixed results with their picks in the 2000s spontaneously kept those “good things” theoretical, their fortunes began to change at the dawn of the last decade. In 2011, the Panthers picked Jonathan Huberdeau for third place. In 2013, they took the second with Alexander Barkov. In 2014, the lottery took them to the first place and they took Aaron Ekblad. The trio formed the core of a revived Panthers group – the three best players to win the President’s Trophy. Barkov led the Panthers by 39 goals. Huberdeau led the entire league with 85 assists. And Ekblad anchors the defense on average about 25 minutes per night. This is exactly what every lottery team dreams of.
But more is needed. When the Panthers found their backs against the wall as they faced Washington in Game 5 of the 2-2 series on Wednesday night, the trio did not pull them. After the Capitals scored their first three goals of the game in their first 24 minutes, teasing the next step towards a dramatic, devastating catastrophe that would extend the Panthers’ league-led play-off winning streak to 25 seasons, it was a new quartet. The Floridians were achieved in other ways that led to a 5-3 victory.
The first was Carter Verhage, who made his debut with Lightning in 2019 but had to retire after winning the 2020 Cup because Tampa could not fit him under the pay cap. The Panthers signed him cheaply and saw him break apart as a secondary scorer, first scoring 18 goals in 43 games in last year’s short season and then this time with 24 goals and 31 assists. Most importantly, he was red-hot when he needed the most in the Panthers’ last two games with four goals and three assists alone. Verhage opened the Panthers Accounts with door-to-door tap-in, Then as the game tied at third, he forced a turnover and went down fast enough to finish on the other end of the ice.
After Wednesday’s win, Panthers team-mate Patrick Hornquist said of Verhage: “He’s been the best player on the ice for the last two games. But Hornquist has done well for himself. Matheson and fringe NHLer Colton Sceviour arrived in Florida on a 2020 trade for the former late first-rounder Mike, who scored the series-winning goal. After that, he got a perfect pass from Verhaeghe and kept quiet in the counter-attack and got on board in Game 5.
Sam Rainhart then tied it and further enhanced the Panthers’ reputation as the league’s most returning team. The 26-year-old played his entire career at Buffalo until last summer, when the Flounding Sabers faced a possibility and a limited free agent for a pick. The former second-overall pick in 2014 was the man to score 20 consecutive goals for six consecutive years in the North and he is now even brighter that he is finally in a winning team. Reinhart has scored 33 goals and 49 assists this year, both career-highs, and with five minutes left in the second half, he took advantage of some chaos around the net (again encouraged by Verheg) to hide the puck across the line.
And with 4-3 games, the most prominent of all the Panthers’ pickups made a moment for himself. You’ll hear Verhaeghe’s name again in this highlight, but in the end all the focus is on Claude Giroux, an expensive mid-acquisition and one of the best Philadelphia flyers of all time. Giroux specifically wanted to go to Florida to chase his first cup, and although he has yet to become a big scorer in his limited time, he showed his finishing ability to give the Panthers some late-game breathing space.
I was a Red Wings fan in my 20s, which meant I had a blessed ignorance about personal investment in the draft lottery for a long time. This has obviously changed in recent years, and like so many other fans I now have my eye on hockey with one eye on the NHL and one eye on developing teens elsewhere. Yes, Lucas Raymond and Moritz Cedar have already exceeded expectations. But the Panthers’ victory on Wednesday illuminated the boundaries of narrow-mindedness that rewarded the draft by excluding other forms of team-building.
Great teams are made up of more than just a few stars they can’t miss. They There is Even a GM who hits his first, second and third round picks in three consecutive seasons কিছু something that never happened and never will — is still less than half of the full roster. And while many of these parties cross their fingers in the lottery, insisting on taking any major change in the free trade or trade market, prioritizing future flexibility over incremental improvements, these are steps in the process that cannot be avoided. The Panthers did not come here overnight. Even Tampa Bay, perhaps the best draft team of all time, needs boys like Blake Coleman and Kevin Shatenkirk to help them cut the hump.
Star hire, scene-changing need-changers, cap casualty and experienced scrapers: these are the four horsemen of any cup competitor, and you won’t find them if you call them by name in June. Unlike Shane Wright, Logan Cooley and the other kids who are expected to be on the lottery this summer, these players will be off the radar of Devil fans, Red Wings fans, flyer fans and everyone else after the remake. They are not the ones whose jerseys are displayed in the team store before their debuts in the NHL, or the ones whose each play is being put on Twitter for analysis to see if it is developing properly. If the team is good again they still don’t show up in the projected future lineup. But they are somewhere now, and the bad team will need those who want to be relevant and the good team who wants to be the champion. A franchise can tank its way into a playoff presence. But the Panthers এবং and of course, the Oilers জানেন are well aware that without the right part around that lottery win, the elimination is still open.