Are The Florida Panthers The Real Deal?

Florida Panthers Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Florida Panthers Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

The Florida Panthers have a long history in the NHL for struggling. Since joining the league in the 1993-94 season they haven’t been the best to ever do it. They made it to the Stanley Cup Final during their third year in the league in 1996 and have yet to win a playoff round since then.

The Panthers have qualified for the playoffs six times during the years since 1996, including the qualifying round in 2020. The crazy thing is they haven’t won any of those playoff trips so far.

This begs the question, can the Florida Panthers get over the playoff hump this season and prove they are the real deal? I think there are a lot of reasons to think this could finally be their season.

Andrew Brunette behind the bench has been great since taking over for Joel Quenneville earlier this season. Sure he doesn’t have the success and track record his predecessor had, but with the roster, the Panthers have in place you probably don’t need the coach to be impacting the games a heck of a lot.

This Panthers team is deadly. They are in the top three for offenses in the entire league, they have a deep roster with a lot of talent to get involved, and their goaltending has been pretty steady through the first 30 plus games of the season.

Let’s break it down a little further. The Panthers have seven players with over 20 points and 16 players with at least ten on the season. The roster is still young and has room to grow in the future. Star defensemen Aaron Ekblad is only 25 and Aleksander Barkov is only 26 years old. This team is scary good, and they can be for a long time.

The Panthers added Sam Reinhart this past offseason in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres, and that has worked out tenfold as the Panthers sent a goalie prospect and a first-round draft pick that could end up being pretty late in the draft if the Panthers keep winning.

Reinhart is on the way to having one of his best seasons in the NHL, and he is only going to get better as time goes by with this team. Now there is one important thing we need to mention when talking about the Florida Panthers’ success this year.

The road to the Stanley Cup is going to go through some challenging teams. The Panthers are arguably in the toughest division in the NHL. They are one head of a three-headed giant in the Atlantic Division.

The top three teams in the Atlantic are the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Florida Panthers. Only one of those teams can make it to the conference final this year, and the road to getting there is probably going to involve both teams unless the Panthers finish first in the division and can play a wild card.

This is one of the best Florida Panthers rosters we have seen ever, but unfortunately, the question of whether or not this team is the real deal will have to wait for when the playoffs come around.