By JD Lagrange – People of my generation have been raised to not laugh at someone else’s misfortune. But when you’re the Montreal Canadiens and you’ve gone through a season from hell, shattering man-games lost records… when, because if it, you had to liquidate your top players at trade deadline… it’s hard to feel sympathy for other teams going through a bit of a tough time. Particularly not when you own their first round pick!
That’s why you won’t see anyone around Montreal feeling sorry for the Toronto Maple Leafs having to play without Matt Murray, their starting goaltender, for… five weeks. Heck, Carey Price played 12 games in 2015-16, and the Habs are entering a second consecutive season without one of the best goaltenders in the game!
Now, the Florida Panthers – who traded their first round pick to Montreal in the Ben Chiarot deal – are missing a couple of key pieces as both Aaron Ekblad and Anthony Duclair are on the Long Term Injury Reserve (LTIR). Duclair, who scored 31 goals for the Panthers last season, had Achilles surgery in the off-season and will be out until January at least. Ekblad played 25 minutes per game last season for the Panthers, leading the team in that category.
But that’s not all the Panthers have lost from the playoffs’ team last year. From the post-season roster to now, they are without:
- Claude Giroux (UFA)
- Jonathan Huberdeau (traded)
- MacKenzie Weegar (traded)
- Ben Chiarot (UFA)
- Joe Thornton (UFA)
You can also now add Ekblad and Duclair, at least for a few weeks/months, to that list.
The additions are somewhat underwhelming in comparison. GM Bill Zito has added:
- Matthew Tkachuk
- Colin White
- Nick Cousins
- Marc Staal
Tkachuk is a substantial addition, but they gave up Huberdeau and Weegar to get him. While it makes them a bit younger, that does not improve a team in the short to mid term.
Further, they don’t have a first or a third round pick at this upcoming draft. It is also important to note that this first round pick traded to the Canadiens has no lottery protection. Let’s be honest though… the Panthers won’t finish in the bottom 10 teams of the NHL for a chance at the first overall pick. But technically, if they were to miss the playoffs, Montreal could find themselves with another top-16 pick in addition to their own.
So forgive them if they don’t shed a tear about Florida’s misfortune.