The Panthers announced today that they’ve trade defenseman Jonathan Racine to the Montreal Canadiens for forward Tim Bozon. The move comes as the Panthers have also just confirmed the signing of Thomas Schemitsch to an entry-level contract which we reported on yesterday.
Jonathan Racine leaves the Panthers’ organization after being drafted in the 3rd round just over 5 years ago, and it doesn’t come as much of a surprise. The 23-year old defenseman has suited up for just 1 NHL game and that came way back in 2014 before being passed over in the depth chart by more skilled, versatile, puck-moving blueliners like Ian McCoshen, Mike Matheson, Linus Hultstrom, and Thomas Schemitsch, among others.
Schemitsch will head to the Thunderbirds of the AHL where he’ll look to secure a spot for the upcoming season after impressing the Panthers’ brass during the preseason.
When the Panthers began to shift towards this new breed of defensemen and began incorporating more analytics into their workflow and decision-making, it was only a matter of time before Racine was moved out. There’s still a place in the league for Racine, and perhaps he’ll get a shot with the Canadiens, but the logjam at defense in the Panthers’ system combined with his slow forward progress made him the odd man out.
In exchange, the Panthers received Tim Bozon, a player destined for a top-6 scoring spot in the NHL before contracting meningitis in early 2014 and being forced to relearn how to walk. The disease set Bozon back significantly in his development evidenced by the fact that he dropped from an impressive 91 points in 69 games during the 2012-13 WHL season to about a point-per-game average in the following two junior seasons. After that, he turned pro where he’s tallied 8 points in 41 AHL games and 9 points in 15 ECHL games over the past couple of seasons.
Bozon, a native of St. Louis Missouri, is still just 22, so there’s still some time for him to catch up, but I wouldn’t say the Panthers are counting on him to be an impact player at the NHL level in the near future, if at all. His story, however, is a courageous one that’s full of perseverance, as he has gone from nearly dying while in a medically-induced coma to returning to the ice and playing professional hockey.