The Panthers announced on Wednesday night that they’ve acquired Jared McCann, a 2016 2nd-round pick, and a 2016 4th-round pick from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Erik Gudbranson and a 2016 5th-round pick.
While not many were expecting Erik Gudbranson to be traded after signing a 1-year contract extension worth $3.5 million about 2 weeks ago, the trade makes sense in retrospect. With Gudbranson being a restricted free-agent, his trade value was dramatically lower than it would be if he was signed to a contract. The Panthers signed him to reasonable terms and suddenly his value went up and allowed them to get a pretty good return from a team looking to upgrade their blue-line. Although Gudbranson was drafted 3rd-overall at the 2010 Draft, he had failed to become more than a bottom-pairing defenseman for the Panthers. Statistically, he was the Panthers’ worst defenseman – aside from Willie Mitchell who missed pretty much all of the second half of the season with a concussion – and consistently gave up more shot attempts and scoring chances than were generated by the Panthers. He also tallied just 2 goals and 7 assists in 64 games this season while Alex Petrovic, who plays a style similar to Gudbranson, upped his offensive game this year by recording 2 goals and 15 assists as well as 1 goal and 4 points in the playoffs.
Now, that’s not to say the Gudbranson is a bad defenseman, because he really isn’t. If he’s put in a bottom-pairing role with the right defensive partner and not given top-pairing minutes, he could certainly have some success. However, the Panthers have contracts coming up like Jonathan Huberdeau, Dmitry Kulikov, Aaron Ekblad, and Vincent Trocheck, among others, and just about all of them will command a good sum of money. Gudbranson will also want a nice paycheck come next off-season considering the amount of minutes and the type of role he played for the Panthers, so it was obvious they decided to ship him off for some scoring potential in 19-year old Jared McCann who did well in a bottom-6 role on a poor Vancouver team this past season.
He scored 9 goals and added 9 assists in 69 games played for the Canucks, and in a conference call on Wednesday, GM Tom Rowe noted that the team was impressed with McCann’s “unbelievable release and shot.” Before the trade, the Panthers had no draft pick in the 2nd round for this year, but they were able to get Vancouver’s, which sits at 33rd overall, as well as their 4th-round pick which will be 93rd overall. This trade definitely seems like a win for the Panthers, and nearly all of the analysts weighing in on Twitter and all over the internet appear to be in agreement with that. While Rowe admitted there was some risk in giving up Gudbranson and that it was a “tough decision,” he went on to say that Mike Matheson’s performance in both the playoffs and the IIHF World Championship in Russia during the past couple of weeks made trading Gudbranson a bit easier, and the return helped as well.
We’ll be taking a hard look at Jared McCann and what he’ll bring to the Panthers over the next severals weeks and months, so stay locked to the site and our Twitter account.