The Panthers finally got back in the win column last night with a hard-fought 5-3 victory over Bob Boughner and his San Jose Sharks. The win wasn’t overly convincing as far as easing concerns about this team’s recent struggles, but at this time of year a win is a win. Now sitting just two points out of the postseason picture and with a game in hand on the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Panthers are back in the race. But, there was some other news yesterday morning regarding the Panthers that has the fan base reeling. Fan-favorite forward, Jayce Hawryluk was waived by the Cats and then claimed by the Ottawa Senators, a division foe. The reaction to this roster move was overwhelmingly negative, but could also be seen as necessary. I’m here to provide a little perspective.
WhAt This Means for the Panthers
The biggest impact made by the departure of Hawryluk is on the Panthers salary cap. With the trade deadline now less than a week away and the Panthers hoping to be buyers instead of sellers, they desperately needed to create some wiggle room as they were pressed against the cap ceiling. With Jayce off the books, the Panthers now have a much-needed $1 million in cap space to hopefully add veteran assistance to the blue line. We can all likely agree that as a win-now hopeful, veteran defense needs to be our top priority right now and that was always going to take precedent over Jayce Hawryluk whether we like it or not. He likely would have been included in any deadline trade anyway to make salary match. I’ve seen people saying this is a huge loss for the Panthers, but that is a slight overreaction. His grit, hustle, energy, and fearlessness will be missed for sure. But as a 24-year-old depth forward, he was certainly not an asset that can’t be replaced, so the “huge loss” takes might be a bit exaggerated. The Panthers must use the roster spot and salary cap space to better the roster though, otherwise we will have lost Jayce for no reason. I understand he was a fan favorite and I personally loved watching every shift of his because of his style of play, but if we’re being objective and realistic, the writing was on the wall here for a while.
What this means for jayce
I’d like to first wish Jayce the best of luck in Ottawa and beyond in his career. He truly gave everything he had on every single shift so for that he is deserving of a long career in the NHL. It’s unfortunate it didn’t work out perfectly here, but Jayce is now in the perfect situation for a player at this stage in his career. As a 24-year-old forward looking for his role in the NHL, he should finally get a real shot while playing on a young, rebuilding Ottawa team. They have ice time to give him and more opportunity than the Panthers could afford to send his way. His development in Florida was mishandled in a variety of ways and a history of injuries also slowed his progression. The Panthers just ran out of time and he is now moving on to a situation that will give him a much better chance. His style of play and new opportunity should be the next step in what I think will be a long career as a third or fourth line winger. He’s young enough to grow and develop for at least two-to-four more seasons before entering his prime years and if he sticks in Ottawa, we will see him four times a year to get a glimpse for ourselves. All in all, the Panthers will move forward and hopefully make good use of the cap space and roster spot now available to them. And Jayce is in a much better situation for his future so we should all wish him the best as he moves ahead in his career.
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