IMAGE PROPERTY OF KIM SMITH
When the Florida Panthers missed the playoffs by one point in the 2017-2018 season, one of the areas they wanted to address was veteran leadership. And not just with someone who’s been in the league for 10-12 years, but with a player who’s been through the trenches and has actually won a Stanley Cup. Those guys know what it takes to grind not only through the regular season, but through the playoffs. The Panthers at that time had no one, until they came to agreement with forward Troy Brouwer.
Brouwer, now a 13 year veteran had spent the previous two seasons in Calgary where the weather can be frigid, but the mountains and scenery are breathtaking. Essentially forced to leave since the Flames had bought him out, Troy re-united himself with Dale Tallon who was general manager for a good portion of his career as a Chicago Blachawk. Brouwer has played in 102 playoff games and had won the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010. Experience, leadership and something to prove. Perfect ingredients for the Panthers.
Troy whom I spoke to early in training camp last season saw a lot of similarities between those Blackhawks and these Panthers. Young stars who were about to begin hitting their stride, hungry youth trying to make the team, and a franchise that was looking for a culture change, and a fan base desperate for a winner. He wasn’t brought in to be a savior, but as he told me that September day, “I want to help wherever I can”.
Brouwer spent most of the season splitting time on the bottom six, which is what was expected of him. He tallied 12 goals and nine assists for 21 points. He occasionally saw some power play time, as well as time on the penalty kill. Coach Bob Boughner relied on Brouwer in certain situations, much to the frustrations of a portion of the fan base. However he did so because he trusted Brouwer and because he felt that the mistake factor would be less with Troy in those situations than others. Those decisions weren’t always right, but neither are those fans.
Besides his leadership both on and off the ice, Brouwer was also brought in to add some toughness, and early in the season against the Chicago Blackhawks he showed that he still has some left:
Although he fights a lot less than he used to, the soon to be 34 year old veteran will still drop the gloves for the right situation.
Brouwer averaged 12:41 of ice time during the season, and despite playing that bottom six role, he still managed to score 12 goals, including one game winner against Washington late in the season, and one shortie against the Bruins the night before. At that point in the season, Brouwer was in the midst of a three game goal scoring streak. He had one other three game streak earlier in the season, as well a two game streak. You could say that his goals sometime come in bunches.
He was a trusted defensive player who saw the ice at the end of games to help protect the lead, as well as in the closing seconds of a period. That’s the role that a guy like Brouwer can fill. If and when you need him to play on your second line, which he often did, or get some power play time, you know that you can tap him on the shoulder and get 100% effort. He also blocked 38 shots and led the team in hits with 177.
Troy signed a one year deal last season for $850,000, and it’s very possible that he’ll be offered another contract this summer. Are there better options? Depends on how you’re going to build your roster. He won’t cost much, and likely isn’t asking for much. The bone of contention is 2 years versus one, but that’s up to management. One additional thing in his favor is Joel Quenneville is very familiar with Troy from their time together in Chicago. Like most veteran coaches, Q will most likely want a veteran guy in the room and on the ice that can be that “buffer” between him and the players. Brouwer easily fits the bill.
Final grade: C++
Very tough grade here as I toyed with a B-, which I almost gave to him. For his role on the team, a B- might even be the right grade, but overall if he could have been a little more consistent with his scoring it would be the proper grade for him. He played with multiple line combinations, and was shuffled in and out of line spots. But also note that he was used in numerous defensive situations and wasn’t looked at for much more scoring than he delivered. Most of his faceoff starts were from the defensive zone. Still, I would have liked to have seen 15-18 goals from Troy. That’s only three to five more, yet when you see that many of his goals were bunched up, it’s possible that could have been achieved.
I do think that the Panthers will resign him, potentially to a two year deal. He provides something that the team is in need of, and what both Dale and coach Q want to have.
Thanks for reading.
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