As The Panthers Face a Crossroads, A Difficult Decision Must Be Made

While many teams around the NHL have had their fair share of hardships, it’s difficult to say that any team is more universally associated with losing than the Florida Panthers. In the midst of their 20th anniversary season, the hapless Panthers have only managed to reach the playoffs four times since their conception. However, even though they lack a winning tradition, the Panthers still have the potential to change their image – possibly sooner than expected.

Even though they are currently blessed with one of the most talented group of prospects in the entire NHL, it’s no longer acceptable for the team to sell the idea that these young players will lead the Panthers to the promise land in the near future. While prospects like Rocco Grimaldi, Vincent Trocheck, and Mike Matheson are all individually gifted, the Panthers have proven to be anything but effective at cultivating young talent throughout their history.

Of the 23 first-round picks in the team’s history, none have come close to reaching the levels of stardom that were expected of them. While part of this developmental hindrance can be attributed to draft day blunders, it’s hard to believe that a team simply could have swung and missed on that many first round picks.

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GIF: Thomas Vanek Scores Between the Legs Goal vs. Blue Jackets

Just two days after Tomas Hertl dazzled us all with his impressive between the legs goal against the New York Rangers on Tuesday, Sabres forward Thomas Vanek decided to throw his name into contention for this season’s goal of the year.

The 29-year-old winger tied the game at 1 early in the 1st period of tonight’s game after using a very “Hertle-esq” move to sneak a puck through the five-hole of last year’s Vezina winner, Sergei Bobrovsky.

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Can Tomas Vanek Be Stopped? The Florida Panthers Hope To Contain Him

Sunday afternoon the Florida Panthers begin their four game road trip with a visit to Buffalo to face the Sabres and red hot Tomas Vanek.  The sharp shooting forward who can play either on the right or left wing, has started the year with 15 points in six games.  He’s scored six goals and has nine assists, and is coming off a three goal two assist night against the Boston Bruins on Thursday.  That was the eighth career hat trick for the player born in Vienna, Austria.  He is currently on a pace to score 47 goals and pick up 71 assists which would give him some gaudy numbers for a 48 game season.  Vanek’s highest point total his seven year NHL career was in 2006-2007 when he had 43 goals and 41 assists for 84 points.  He was also a plus 47, and 15 of his goals came on the power play.  He’s  scored 40 goals or more twice in his career, and also has also scored 36 and 32 goals in two other seasons.  He is the first NHL player to record five points in his teams’ first five games since Mario Lemieux in 1992-1993. He truly is the spark in the Buffalo offence, a team that traditionally doesn’t score too much, and is very good at two way hockey.  That thanks to head coach Lindy Ruff.

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