The Florida Panthers have a short but colorful history with some real characters that have graced the artificial ice in the Sunshine State.
The club was formed in 1993 and participated in that year’s expansion draft (in Quebec) together with fellow newcomers Anaheim.
The Panthers drafted successfully in that expansion draft and set the platform for a string of early triumphs for the team that was based in Miami at that time.
Indeed, of the 24 players selected by the Cats, four of them would make their way onto this list, and several others were in serious consideration for a spot on this Top 10.
Florida had the best first year in NHL history, and only two seasons later the Panthers would storm through the Eastern Conference to claim a place in the Stanley Cup Final versus Colorado.
The Avalanche swept the Cats 4-0 to end the Cinderella run, which saw hockey in South Florida reach fever pitch and the ice invaded by rubber rats upon goal celebrations.
Nevertheless, the franchise would after this climax—which was the “year of the rats”—start to fade, and today the franchise holds the ignominious record of not reaching the playoff in nine consecutive years and counting.
The team has also moved out of Miami to Sunrise in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area.
Whilst those halcyon days of boisterous hockey sensation seem a distant memory these days, the Panthers have still had some accomplished players amongst its ranks and made this selection a very difficult one to make.
Names like Bill Lindsay, Jay Bouwmeester, Ed Jovanovski, Jesse Belanger, Radek Dvorak, Gord Murphy, Nathan Horton, Ray Whitney, and Tom Fitzgerald—to just name a few—did not make the cut.
The competition, despite the short history of the franchise, was fierce.
As a final note: With the “Greatest Panthers,” I mean the players that performed best with the Cats and do not judge the players upon their level of skill or success outside of this club. I only looked at what they achieved in South Florida—and nothing else.