LBC's All-Time Florida Panthers Roster Countdown: 10. The Russian Rocket

Greetings, salutations, good morning and well met. Today, we get into the top 10 most valuable all-time Panthers, as described in the formula denoted here.

In yesterday's article, we looked back at Florida's inaugural season blue-line quarterback, Gord Murphy (410 games, 42 goals, 100 assists). In today's story, I'm privileged to bring you the abridged summary of a Hall-of-Fame right winger from Moscow.

Rock and Roll, after the jump.

10. Pavel Bure

Bure, a 5'10" right winger, was originally from Moscow, USSR. He skated with CSKA Moscow starting in 1987-88, scoring one goal and an assist in five games. He saw a lot more action in 1988-89, scoring 17 goals and nine assists in 32 contests. After his second season, the Vancouver Canucks took a chance on him with a sixth round pick in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, selecting him 113th overall. He played two more seasons with Moscow, in 1989-90 scoring 14 goals and 11 assists through 46 games before breaking out in 1990-91 with 35 goals and 11 assists in 44 games.

Bure made his stateside debut with the Canucks in 1991-92, scoring 34 goals and 26 assists in 65 games. In seven seasons with Vancouver, he totalled over 30 goals four times, including a 50 goal and two 60 goal seasons. All told, he averaged over a point per game with the Canucks, scoring a franchise fifth best 254 goals and 224 assists in 428 games.After the 1997-98 season, Bure wanted a trade, and wasn't afraid to let everyone know it. According to wikipedia.org:

Following the 1997–98 season, Bure told newly appointed general manager Brian Burke in a meeting on July 5, 1998, that he would not play for the Canucks again, despite still having a year left in his contract worth USD $8 million.Bure then went public with the declaration the following month, stating that he intended to leave the club for "personal reasons".Bure did not report to the club the following season. He instead went back to his hometown Moscow to practice with his former Central Red Army club. During this time, president Alexander Lukashenko offered Bure a tax-free US$4 million salary to play in Belarus, which Bure turned down.

Bure held out until January 17, 1999, when the Canucks finally traded him to the Panthers with Bret Hedican, Brad Ference, and a third round pick (Robert Fried) for Ed Jovanovski, Dave Gagner, Mike Brown, Kevin Weekes, and a first round pick (Nathan Smith). He skated in 11 games for Florida, straining his right knee against the Pittsburgh Penguins on February 5th. Despite his short season, he scored 13 goals and three assists. He had five multi-point games, including two hat tricks. He first accomplished the feat in his third game of the season, a 3-3 tie with the Philadelphia Flyers on January 26, then later in his last game of the year, a 7-5 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on March 5th. His 13 goals (on only 44 shots) ranked seventh on the club, and he managed to accrue an ATOI of 21:41 with a plus-3 rating and four PIM. In Florida's four game postseason appearance, Bure scored a goal and three assists as the New Jersey Devils easily swept our heroes.

Bure scored 58 goals on 360 shots in 1999-00, leading the NHL in both categories. Adding his 36 assists left him ranked second in the league with 94 overall points. His plus-25 rating and 14 game winning goal led Florida. He also led the Panthers forwards with 24:23 ATOI, ranking second amongst all skaters. His season featured 25 multi-point contests, including four hat tricks. He scored a season high four goals in a New Years Day, 7-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. He scored 38 points in a 19 game span from December 4th through January 15th (22 goals, 16 assists). After his all-star season (his fffth), he was honored with his first Maurice Richard Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL's top goal scorer. He had previously led the league with 60 goals in 1993-94, but the award hadn't at that time been introduced.

In 2000-01, Bure continued his off the charts offensive productivity. He was one of two Panthers (along with Robert Svehla) to appear in all 82 Panthers contests, averaging a team leading 26:52 ice time per game. He again led the NHL in goals and shots on goal, with 59 and 384, respectively. He also led the Cats with 33 assists, ranking seventh in the league with 92 overall points. He finished the season with a minus-2 rating, 58 penalty minutes, and a team leading eight game winners. In a 29 game span from January 20th through March 23rd, he totalled 53 points (35 goals, 18 assists). He again put up 25 multi point games, including four hat tricks. He had a five point game (four goals, one assist) in a 7-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on February 10th. He won his second consecutive Maurice Richard Trophy, and was selected to his sixth all-star contest.

2001-02 would see Bure play in 56 games with the Panthers, including 13 games in which he scored more than one point. Despite his reduced schedule, he finished second on Florida's leaderboard with 22 goals (one behind team leader Kristian Huselius) on 238 shots. He led the team with 27 assists and with 49 total points. Despite this, Florida sent him to the New York Rangers on March 18th with a second round pick (Lee Falardeau) for Igor Ulanov, Filip Novak, a first round pick (Eric Nystrom) a second round pick (Rob Globke) and a fourth round pick (Guillaume Desbiens).

In parts of two seasons with the Rangers, Bure totalled 31 goals and 19 assists in only 51 games. After missing half of 2002-03, all of 2003-04, and the lost season in 2004-05, Bure officially announced his retirement on November 1st, 2005.

Bure was simply the most exciting and efficient goal scorer in Panthers history. His "Russian Rocket" moniker was well deserved, as he skated circles around anyone else on the ice. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame with the Class of 2012. You can read more here, at the Hockey Hall of Fame's induction showcase.

All-Time Statline: Four seasons, 223 games, 152 goals (third all-time), 99 assists, 251 points (ninth all-time), plus-12 rating (seventh all-time), 134 penalty minutes, 31.3 APS.

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