Fantasy Take: Maurice Hired by the Panthers

Alexander MacLean

2022-06-22

The Florida Panthers were disappointed with their early playoff exit under Jack Adams finalist Andrew Brunette, and so they hired Paul Maurice in his place… a coach with a history of failing to get teams far in the post-season. On an unrelated note, you get one guess who holds the all-time NHL record for most losses (hint: it's not Brunette). We're not here to question the why though, we just want to know what to do with the new information.

Maurice was a successful coach for a time with the Jets, leading a varied set of players over the years, getting good offence out of his players, and a few years of Vezina caliber goaltending out of Connor Hellebuyck, but he wasn't able to fix things after Dustin Byfuglien left. The Panthers have a better collection of players than perhaps even the peak of those Jets teams, so there is a lot for a coach to work with, though it will be tough for the Panthers to top last season's 4.15 goals per game.

The good thing for owners of Panthers players in fantasy, is that Paul Maurice did not make his star players over-extend themselves on the defensive end of the puck. That's great news for Jonathan Huberdeau, and whoever ends up on a line with him. With centres Anton Lundell and Aleksander Barkov both able to handle themselves at either end of the rink, it could be that one of them gets moved to Huberdeau's line and opened up a bit offensively. From Maurice's track record in Winnipeg, he likes to stack his top players as well, so my bet would be that we see a spike in offence from Barkov next year.

With that, it also may mean Sam Reinhart gets moved up from the third line, possibly even to line one with the big boys. That would leave Carter Verhaeghe, Sam Bennett, and Anthony Duclair for line two, with Mason Marchment, and Anton Lundell as the main names for the third line. A Claude Giroux return would mix things up, as would a Patric Hornqvist trade (for cap purposes), so don't go writing any lineups in stone yet. They're tough to project even when we know the full roster.

One interesting thing to watch is that despite Nikolaj Ehlers being one of the best offensive weapons in Winnipeg during Maurice’s tenure, he was not given much time on the power play. We will need to be cautious with that kind of thing, as it could mean a forward, or forwards, are given that same treatment. There is a limited amount of offensive time to go around as it is,

On the flip side, looking at the 24-year career of