Eye On The Cats: Tomas Kopecky

USA TODAY Sports

The Most Interesting Slovak in the World had a not so interesting 2013-14 season. Could it be his last garbed in the palm trees and hockey sticks?

Eyeonthecatstk82_medium

Tomas Kopecky is only in Florida to serve one purpose. Placeholder. Yes, Kopecky is a placeholder for one of the many prospects the Florida Panthers have drafted since Dale Tallon was hired as general manager in 2010. However, he was not always seen as just a mere placeholder or a necessary veteran presence. In fact, on a team with better surrounding talent, Kopecky suddenly becomes much more valuable. Many in Pantherland have reserved themselves to thinking that he is an albatross of a player and the Panthers must rid of him from the organization as soon as possible. I do not believe that to be the best course of action.

As much as the team keeps harping about the future and the sheer awesomeness of the kids already trickling into the lineup, the Panthers are far from winning the Stanley Cup right now. So what is the harm in letting Kopecky play out the final year of his contract? He'll be taking up a spot for a youngster or for a new acquisition or free agent? Just because Tallon now has the ability to make moves freely does not mean those moves should be done frivolously. It's highly unlikely a free agent signing will not be made to replace Kopecky. It will be either a defenseman (or two) needed to shore up the blue line or a top-6 winger to add some scoring punch and help the young forwards. The 32-year-old Slovak is neither of those things.

Kopecky is a role player meant to occupy the bottom two lines. He is nothing more than that. When he is put into that role he does just fine as was shown in his stints with the Detroit Red Wings and in Chicago with Blackhawks. Both of those occasions eventually got his name etched into the Stanley Cup. However, when he was brought to Florida it seems that the success-starved fans of the Cats were expecting him to light up the score sheet and be more than the placeholder and cap-floor filler that he was. Sure, Kopecky did surprising well in the lockout-shortened 2013 season by scoring a team-leading 15 goals, but that campaign was rife with anomalies for a lot of players and teams in the NHL.

It was no surprise to me that he could not keep that kind of scoring pace going in 2013-14, nor should he have been expected to. Almost everyone on the squad had a terrible season and was worthy of being shipped out of Sunrise. Having said that, it is not always smart to just hit the reset button every time that happens. Looking at all the names on the back of the jerseys of fans at the BB&T Center that are not on the roster proves that stability is severely lacking in the Sawgrass. Right now, the Panthers have stability in the organization thanks to a new owner and Tallon's draft-focused rebuild. Having a terrible team is the only way to get better. Last place finishes get the Sidney Crosby's or Jonathan Toews of the world, not heroic ninth place finishes or first round playoff exits.

Tomas Kopecky was not signed here with the intent of him being a piece of a Stanley Cup-contending Panthers team. He was brought in to fill a spot while the youngsters were being groomed to take over. Anything more from him would be welcome in the final year of his contract so that he can be flipped for a draft pick or prospect. That is all I envision Tomas Kopecky being this season. Just a gritty veteran player going to work on the bottom lines and providing the team's prospects time to take his place when they are ready and able.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Litter Box Cats

You must be a member of Litter Box Cats to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Litter Box Cats. You should read them.

Join Litter Box Cats

You must be a member of Litter Box Cats to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Litter Box Cats. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9355_tracker