The Florida Panthers have Jaromir Jagr on their top line, therefore they automatically become TheNicessist’s #1 pick for 2015-16 Stanley Cup Champions. As far as we are concerned, there are only three potential reasons why Jagr is still in the NHL:
- Scoping out the competition and league’s players so he can more accurately gamble on hockey games. If he begs to become the inaugural captain of the Celine Dion presents the Las Vegas Complimentary Rum and Cokes at the MGM Grand when the expansion happens, you know something is officially up.
- He’s scouting out the young Florida Panthers core to find a suitable, handsome, perky new host body for when he finally perfects his soul transfer spell, allowing him to play in the NHL for another 20. If Barkov shows up next year with a flowing mullet, you know something is officially up.
- He’s actually a vampire overlord, and is forming an army of vampire hockey players away from the limelight where nobody will notice anything weird is happening (because nobody cares about the Panthers, right, right?). If the Panthers all show up looking pale and ghostly with little bite marks on their necks next year, you know something is officially up. I like to imagine that Phil Kessel will take on the role of Buffy the Vampire slayer in this scenario, with Sydney Crosby being Willow and Malkin being Xander.
Or he’s just trying to take a young, inconsistent Panthers squad, show them what resolve and leadership means, before riding off into the sunset and playing in the next 4 winter Olympics. But that’s boring.
The Panthers have been an obsolete franchise since wearing sweatpants with the new NHL expansion teams on the side went out of fashion in the mid 90s. Generally speaking, when your team is turrible you don’t just stand pat and hope for the best, but that’s exactly what the Panthers did this year (other than not re-sign Huberdeau yet). Speaking of Jonathan Huberdeau, his break out season is now and that’s 100% because he gets to line up next to Jagr from October to June (because they’re making the Finals, remember?).
The one personnel move they did make (trading Jimmy Hayes for Reilly Smith) is about as non-consequential and lateral as you can possibly get.
Still, they got some pieces, and they got Luongo who seems to be rounding back into a very good goaltender now that he’s out of that Vancouver shit storm. With some solid development out of their youngsters, and solid contributions from their 10+ season vets like Jagr, Brian Campbell, Aaron Ekblad, Jussi Jokinen and Shawn Thornton (ew, I totally forgot he plays there), this team could make some noise and sneak into the Playoffs.