Friday, September 5, 2008

Panthers' News

The Florida Panthers kept the offseason interesting by acquiring Toronto Maple Leafs' defenseman Brian McCabe and a fourth round draft pick in the 2010 draft in exchange for Mike Van Ryn.

The outgoing Panther, Mike Van Ryn, was lost for a majority of the 2007-2008 season. Last offseason, he had surgeries on both wrists, and he played in only 20 games before being placed in the injured reserve list in November, when he had yet another surgery. His best year in Florida came in '05-'06, when he was a +15 and accumlated 37 points (8 G, 29 A). There have been questions all offseason about his durability.

McCabe is entering his 13th season in the NHL. He's scored at least 20 points every year, including three consecutive 50-point seasons from 2004-2007. He has averaged 49 points over the last 3 seasons. He had fallen out of favor in Toronto, both with the GM and the fans. The Leafs have been looking to unload his contract for awhile now, and Florida has the space. While he is 4 years older then Van Ryn, he is an immediate offensive upgrade, as well as a solid, veteran presence on the blueline. McCabe is just another leap forward in solidfying what has been one of the worst defenses in the league the past few years.

Brian may have said it best himself. "“I’m excited about coming.’’ McCabe said. “There’s a great group of young guys here and a good mix of talent. Bringing in Cory Stillman, a guy with two Stanley Cups, and the acquisitions of Ballard and Boynton is a big upside. With myself added, and Jay Bouwmeester, who is one of the best defensemen in the league, hands down, I think we have one of the best defensive units out there. Plus you have an All-Star goalie."

The Cats defense will likely play at least 3 new faces in the starting lineup; McCabe, along with offseason signees Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton. Alongside them are returning starters Jay Bouwmeester and Bryan Allen. Noah Welch or Karlis Skrastins will probably be the 6th defensman. GM Jacques Martin promised to improve the defense this year. He has given it an entirely new face. First game is October 10.

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