Monday, July 4, 2022

Panthers clinch first Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history

Florida Panthers Getty Celebration
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The Florida Panthers clinched the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time in franchise history as they finished the 2021-22 regular season with 122 points. Florida earned the honor on Thursday after beating the Ottawa Senators 4-0 and having the Colorado Avalanche lose to the Nashville Predators in a shootout.

It also was only the second time in franchise history that the Panthers topped the 100-point mark. The Panthers accumulated 103 points during the 2015-16 season.

After falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Panthers front office made sure they left no stone unturned this time around. At the trade deadline, general manager Bill Zito went out and acquired veteran winger Claude Giroux from the Philadelphia Flyers while also adding defenseman Ben Chiarot in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens.

Giroux has proved to be a strong addition for the Panthers as he’s recorded three goals and 20 assists in 18 games since joining the team. The former Flyers captain has been a fixture on Florida’s top line alongside top center Aleksander Barkov and fellow winger Carter Verhaeghe.

The Panthers did deal with their fair share of injuries in the quest to secure the President’s Trophy. Barkov dealt with an upper-body injury early in the season and was forced to be out of the lineup for nearly six weeks of action. In addition, top defenseman Aaron Ekblad has been out since mid-March with a leg injury, but is expected to return in the opening round of the postseason.

Florida finishes the regular season with four players topping the 30-goal plateau and three players topping the 80-point mark. Winger Jonathan Huberdeau led the way with a team-high 115 points (30 goals and 85 assists) and is currently is tied with Calgary Flames star Johnny Gaudreau for second in the NHL in points only behind Edmonton Oilers star center Connor McDavid.

The Presidents’ Trophy winner actually hasn’t been a juggernaut when it comes to success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Since the 2001-02 season, the league’s top team has only won the Stanley Cup on three occasions. The Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2002 and 2008 after securing the Presidents’ Trophy while the Chicago Blackhawks accomplished the feat in 2013.

No Presidents’ Trophy winner has appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals since the Blackhawks did so in 2013. The Panthers will be looking to change that narrative when the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin on May 2.

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