Head coach Paul Maurice shares his verdict on why Panthers’ Tobias Bjornfot Should Get a Chance to Prove Himself…

Tobias Bjornfot of the Panthers ought to get an opportunity to prove himself…

The Florida Panthers are battling it out for the top Atlantic Division slot. With a 45-19-4 record and 94 points, one point fewer than the Boston Bruins, they are ranked second in the division.

Over the past several weeks, the Cats have had to make some significant adjustments to their defense. First of all, Aaron Ebkald was issued a week-to-week schedule after leaving the game against the Calgary Flames due to a knee injury. Additionally, on March 16, defenseman Dmitry Kulikov elbowed Tampa Bay Lightning forward Conor Sheary in the head, earning him a two-game penalty.

The Panthers claimed Tobias Bjornfot off waivers from the Vegas Golden Knights during the trade deadline. He has an opportunity to demonstrate his skills and secure a position on the Panthers squad by the end of the regular season, thanks to the losses on the defensive end of the puck.

Bjornfot’s NHL Adventure
The Los Angeles Kings selected the Swedish defenseman with the 22nd overall choice in the 2019 NHL Draft. Over the course of five seasons, he appeared in 117 games with Los Angeles, recording four assists and just one goal. He played 60 games with the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League (AHL), where he spent a significant amount of his time. He was put on waivers and signed by the Golden Knights in January.

But he played just two games with the Golden Knights before getting sent back to the AHL and being placed on waivers. In the NHL, he was never able to establish himself. But the Panthers are giving him another go.

Waiver Wire Acquisitions Have Done Wonders for Zito Bill Zito, general manager of the Panthers, has a talent for seeing little players on the waiver wire and developing them into important members of the team.

Gustav Forsling, a Swede who struggled to establish himself with the Carolina Hurricanes or Chicago Blackhawks, was taken in by him, much like Bjornfot. After four seasons with Florida, he has 37 goals and 92 points, making him the team’s best defenseman right now. With a plus-48 rating, he leads the league in plus/minus as well. He received an eight-season extension worth $5.75 million average annual value (AAV) for his outstanding play.

Maurice needs to check his roster to see if he has any extra defensive depth.
The Panthers’ defense has always been one of their strongest suit. However, their lack of depth was a major factor in their playoff collapse the previous season. Throughout the run, players never gave their all and persevered through the discomfort. This includes Brandon Montour and Erik Ekblad, two of their best defenders. Furthermore, Josh Mahura and a few other back end players haven’t been as strong lately.

As the playoffs get closer, head coach Paul Maurice will have another option on the back end if Bjornfot steps up and produces. Having more depth is always advantageous, particularly during the postseason.

Bjornfot Needs to Take Advantage of This Chance
Bjornfot needs to take advantage of his opportunity if he wants to stay with the Panthers. He has the opportunity to suit up against the New York Rangers on Saturday night, but he is unlikely to play against the Nashville Predators on Thursday. The last game of Kulikov’s suspension is that one.

In any case, Zito and company made a low-risk, high-reward decision with this waiver transaction. His jersey will be seen on the rink more frequently for years to come if it turns out well. He might have another Forsling on his hands.

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