Panthers Must Keep Bouwmeester To Make Playoffs

Jesse MorrisContributor IFebruary 18, 2009

The NHL trade deadline is a mere two weeks away and the rumours around south Florida will not halt.  Granted, any talk about hockey in this south Florida market is a good sign for a hockey fan like this one, but this situation is a bit more complex and precarious than most in this area really understand.

Jay Bouwmeester is a great player, he's quiet, he's unassuming, but he is a really great player.  He's a strong defensive hand, with the ability to generate offense, and it's that solidity and silence that makes him so capable.  Even in Florida's nine-year absence from the postseason, his frustrations have gone largely unexpressed.

If the Cats intend to make the playoffs at all, Bouwmeester will be wearing navy, yellow and red on March 5, the chemistry to the team at this point is so important that any minuscule change could hurt their efforts. 

Chemistry, in fact, seems to be what is driving this team's climb up the standings.  This team is a classic example of having a solid contribution from everyone on each line and accountability pushing everybody to work steadily every single night.  Just look at the incredible assist numbers from Stephen Weiss, or the fantastic production from homegrown talent David Booth and Michael Frolik.

As a fan of the Florida Panthers and a fan who has watched the team since that fairytale 1996 season, I know as well as anyone that making noise in the postseason will be transformative for this market. I just hope that Jacques Martin knows that as well.