The Florida Maple Cats

Aaron BrenkerCorrespondent IAugust 30, 2008

The Florida Panthers have not hesitated on making transactions with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the past, but with the supposedly approved Bryan McCabe trade on the horizon I will recap some key moves the Panthers have made with the Leafs, and how they have affected both franchises.

Panthers acquisitions

Joe Nieuwendyk—The Cornell graduate did not play in the 2004-05 season, and became an unrestricted free agent coming into the 2005-06 season. Former Panthers GM Mike Kennan pounced at the opportunity to acquire the all around center. Nieuwendyk did not disappoint in his first season with the Panthers, as he scored 26 goals and added 30 assists in only 65 games.

He unfortunately was forced to retire in the 2006-07 season due to reoccurring back problems. Soon after Nieuwendyk was hired as a special consultant to the Florida Panthers GM. He would later take the same role for his former team the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Gary Roberts—Along with childhood friend Joe Nieuwendyk, Roberts was signed by the Panthers in 2004-05. Roberts was brought in for his grit, desire and ability to get in front of the net. He showed his toughness for the Panthers as he caused fights and scored the "ugly" goals.

Due to his constant physical play Roberts only played in 50 games, but put up solid numbers with 14 goals and 26 assists. In the 2006-07 season the Panthers struggled to stay in the playoff hunt and dealt the left winger to the Pittsburgh Penguins, for defenseman Noah Welch. Today, Roberts remains in the Sunshine State, playing for cross state rival Tampa Bay Lightning.

Wade Belak- At the 2008 NHL trade deadline, the Maple Leafs dealt winger/ defense man Wade Belak to the Florida Panthers for a 5th round draft pick in the 2008 NHL draft. Belak was the enforcer the Panthers had been in search of since the loss of Peter Worrell.

Belak played the final 12 games of the 2007-08 NHL season with the Panthers. In those games he became a solid forward who could hit, fight and protect the younger Panthers forwards. He looks to continue to bring his physical play to the Panthers line-up in the 2008-09 season.

Chad Kilger—A last minute acquisitions at the 2008 deadline for a third round pick, Kilger was brought in to help the Panthers add bulk to their offensive lines. Kilger put up 10 goals and seven assists for Toronto.

Once he became a Panther Kilger requested a leave of absence for undisclosed reasons, which was granted. Kilger however failed to return and was suspended without pay on March 5. His issues have still yet to be discussed and his future with the Panthers and NHL is up in the air, retirement may be in view for the right winger.

Possible acquisition—Bryan McCabe

Maple Leafs acquisitions

Robert Svehla—He moved from the Panthers to the Maple Leafs, in the 2002-03 season. He was strong defensively and loved body-checking. Svehla controversially wore the number 67 jersey in Toronto. The number was controversial because the Leafs have not won a cup since 1967. This did not sit well with Toronto fans.

Svehla was solid in his one year with the Maple leafs, scoring seven goals with 38 assists. He once again proved his durability playing in all 82 games for the fifth time in his NHL career.

Trevor Kidd- He was a fan favorite among Panthers fans. Kidd used his streaky, emotional play to fire up his teammates and fans alike. Kidd was waived by the Panthers before the start of the 2002-03 season.

In the 2003-04 season Kidd was solid as a back up goaltender for the Maple Leafs. He posted a 6-5-2 record with an .876 save percentage while backing up another former Panther Ed Belfour.

Niklas Hagman- He was drafted by the Panthers in the third round of the 1999 NHL draft. Hagman struggled in his time as a Panther, as he never blossomed into the scorer everyone expected. Hagman was traded to the Dallas Stars in the 2004-05 season.

Hagman enjoyed great success with the Stars, scoring 27 goals with 14 assists in the 2007-08 season. In the off season Toronto signed the former Panther to a four year three million dollar a season deal.

Possible acquisition–Mike Van Ryn

The September 1st bonus for Bryan McCabe is quickly approaching and we may see these two teams deal to each other once again. How each player will effect their respective teams will be a question worth asking and waiting to be received.




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