Florida Panthers' Castoffs Excelling in the NHL

Aaron BrenkerCorrespondent INovember 11, 2008

Throughout a sports franchise's life, players will come and go.

Some will be released, some traded, some acquired and some drafted—but it is the organizations responsibility to weed out the good players from the bad.

This has been something the Florida Panthers franchise has not been able to do.

Poor drafting and decisions by the front office has kept the Panthers from a playoff berth. Lets take a look at some former Panthers that have gone on to have great NHL careers:


Ray Whitney

Whitney was solid while with the Panthers, but never fully reached his potential.  Whitney was an All-Star one year with the Panthers, but that was also with the help of sniper Pavel Bure.

The Panthers traded Whitney to the Columbus Blue Jackets for future considerations and Kevyn Adams. Whitney finally reached his potential once he found the Jackets, tallying 137 points in two seasons with the Columbus.

Later Whitney would continue playing at a high level, both for the Red Wings and the Hurricanes. Whitney has become a leader and one of the best players for the Hurricanes.  He has won a Stanley Cup and played at an All-Star level for three seasons in Carolina. Every time the Panthers play the Hurricanes, Whitney reminds Florida what a mistake they made giving up on him.


Niklas Hagman

Hagman played four seasons with the Florida Panthers. He was drafted 70th overall in the 1999 NHL draft.

The Finnish skater was dubbed to be a hard-hitting forward who could put up points. He drew comparisons to Bill Guerin.  But Hagman never could find the scoring touch with the Panthers, and barely managed to tally 20 points in his seasons with the Panthers.

The Panthers traded Hagman to the Dallas Stars for a seventh-round draft pick. Hagman struggled in his first season in Dallas, but quickly after exploded on the scene, scoring 17 goals in his second year with the Stars. In his final season with the Stars, he tallied 27 goals, and became the grinding forward the Panthers thought they were getting.

Hagman is currently playing exceptional hockey with the surprising Toronto Maple Leafs.


Kristian Huselius

The Panthers drafted Huselius 47th overall. Huselius was solid at first, with the Florida Panthers scoring 43 goals in his first two seasons. Later on, however, Huselius struggled to play two-way hockey and often played lackadaisically in key games. The Panthers had enough of his lazy play and traded him away to the Calgary Flames.

Huselius found his old form, and became one of the Flames most dangerous players. He scored 74 goals in three seasons, with the Calgary Flames and became a free agent many teams wanted to get their hands on. The Jackets once again snatched up a former Panther, and he has become a key player for Columbus.


Radek Dvorak

The original Panther had a solid beginning to his NHL career with the Florida Panthers, but it was mostly as a role player—not as the scoring forward the Panthers expected. The Panthers would later trade Dvorak to San Jose, and he was later was traded to the New York Rangers.

Dvorak broke out with the Rangers. He scored 31 goals and added 36 assists for New York. Dvorak would later become a key component in the Edmonton Oilers' Stanley Cup run, scoring timely goals and being one of the Oilers' most responsible forwards.

The Panthers thought they could correct their mistake by bringing back Dvorak, but he has struggled to find any offense for Florida, tallying only 17 points in one season for the Panthers.


Mark Parrish

The former Panther was involved in the biggest trade in Panthers' history. He and fellow Panther Oleg Kvasha were traded to the New York Islanders for Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen. Despite his struggles in Florida, Parrish became an All-Star in New York and was a solid veteran presence in the Islanders' locker room.

Parrish has been a consistent player for every team he has played for since the Panthers. He was released by the Minnesota Wild, giving GM Jacques Martin a chance to bring back the solid veteran, but he passed. The Stars jumped at the chance to acquire the cheap talent, and he repaid the Stars by scoring a natural hat-trick in his first game with Dallas.


Many other solid players have been let go by the Panthers. Some more names that come to mind are Victor Kozlov, Rob Niedermayer, and Jaroslav Spacek. Whether this is the fault of the players, locker room, or front office is up to you.

Hopefully the Panthers will not have to add such names to this list as Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss, or Rostislav Olesz.