Redemption: How a bitter loss in 2023 helped the Florida Panthers win the Stanley Cup in 2024

After losing to Vegas in five games last season, the Panthers retooled and refocused to earn the first Stanley Cup in franchise history 12 months later.
2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game Seven
2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game Seven / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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The Florida Panthers reached the pinnacle of hockey on Monday night, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 in Game 7 to earn their first Stanley Cup. One year ago, they were on the other side, watching the Vegas Golden Knights celebrate in Las Vegas. All of the bad feelings after being dominated by Vegas led to a busy offseason, a meaningful deadline, and a postseason run that will live in immortality. Here's how the Florida Panthers turned a low moment into a Stanley Cup victory.

The Stanley Cup Final loss to Vegas led to some serious turnover.

Following an embarrassing loss in Game 5 in the final game of the 2023 Stanley Cup Final, the Florida Panthers got very busy. Once free agency began, they saw quite a bit of turnover. Gone were veterans like Radko Gudas, Eric and Marc Staal, Patric Hornqvist, and Colin White. After barely making the playoffs in the first place, the Panthers knew they needed to do something to remain competitive in the stacked Atlantic Division.

The clear focus was on the defense. The first day on the open market saw them sign Niko Mikkola and Dmitry Kulikov, among others. The name that stood out the most was Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Just weeks prior, Ekman-Larsson had been bought out by the Vancouver Canucks. General Manager Bill Zito decided to take a chance on the veteran defenseman, signing him to a one-year deal.

Among that group of signings was also forward Evan Rodrigues. After playing on three teams over the last four seasons, Rodrigues signed for four years, giving him a little more permanency. The team also signed Anthony Stolarz to back up Sergei Bobrovsky and traded Anthony Duclair to the Sharks for Steven Lorentz to give them a little more cap flexibility.