6 most important decisions that led to a Stanley Cup for the Florida Panthers

It took a long time for the Florida Panthers to build their Stanley Cup championship team. These are the six most important moves.
Florida Panthers v Montreal Canadiens
Florida Panthers v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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The Florida Panthers are Stanley Cup champions! It was a wonderful run for them to finally get it done after a few years of being elite.

There were a lot of things that led up to them becoming a great franchise in the NHL. They won the President's Trophy in 2021-22, made it to the Stanley Cup Final (but lost to the Vegas Golden Knights) in 2022-23, and finally won it all in 2023-24.

How did the Panthers get there? Solid draft picks, great trades, free agent dominance, and waiver claims all helped them build a winner.

These are the six moves that were most important in Florida finally winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history:

Sasha Barkov was a brilliant pick for the Florida Panthers at 2nd overall

At the 2013 NHL Draft, it was between Nathan MacKinnon and Seth Jones at the top. It always felt like the Colorado Avalanche would end up selecting Nathan MacKinnon and they did. They do not regret that decision as he is an elite player that has since won the Stanley Cup. 

However, the Florida Panthers shocked the world when they didn’t take Jones second overall. They took Finnish forward Aleksander Barkov with that pick and it was a Stanley Cup winning decision. 

They gave the Conn Smyth Trophy to Connor McDavid because he had an all-time playoff performance despite coming a win away from the Cup. Barkov was the second-place guy as he was the catalyst of Florida forwards in this postseason. 

Barkov is now a two-time Selke Trophy winner (he won it this year) and a Stanley Cup champion. He is on a Hall of Fame track. Florida made an incredible pick despite it being the unpopular one at the time. 

When commissioner Gary Bettman handed him the Stanley Cup as captain, it was the first time that a Finnish captain had the honor. He is one of the greatest Finnish players and Panthers of all time. Both he and the team should be proud of the decision that made him a Panther.