Florida left wing Cory Stillman brings a number of intangibles to the Panthers: a veteran presence with playoff success, a grittiness to his game which belies his years, and a resume which lends itself to an inarguably well-deserved leadership position with the club. At the other end, he has far too often found himself spending inordinate amounts of time in the BAC infirmary; at 36, he's unlikely to remedy that issue over the remainder of his career.
"Stiller", having just wrapped year number two of a three-season deal in which he will collect $3.5M (with a cap hit of $3.53M), goes into the summer as one of the more likely among the team to be moved. Though not a particularly ridiculous contract, he is quite probably far more valuable to Florida as an asset to be moved at/around the Draft. Unless included in a package deal, don't expect much beyond a third-rounder heading back Sunrise way. We'll look at the reasons for it after the jump...
Peering at Stillman's numbers over the past two years, his goal production has remained relatively consistent (15 in '10, 17 in '09) while assists dropped sharply (22 vs. 32). He missed 33 games due to injury in that span. Is he on a downward spiral? The upcoming third year, alongside talent he hasn't been blessed with yet - and a few less injuries - would certainly lend to a better outcome. But is that a realistic target?
WHERE HE'S IMPROVED IN 2010 over 2009: GWG (4 over 2), SOG (126 to 115), Blocked shots (22 to 20). And this is with fewer games played (58 to 63).
Forgetting his numerical output over the last two seasons, Stillman can be honestly summarized as Florida's best UFA forward signee of the last five years; between the Stumpels, Gelinas, and a half dozen others signed to contracts they weren't nearly worth over the previous half decade, Stillman has been the only "name" player brought into the fold who had a winning pedigree (two Stanley Cups in two back-to-back seasons with two clubs) and a flicker of fire in the belly, lending to his assistant captaincy with the Cats. And I was rather vocal about him being The Guy to get the "C" last summer. Which brings us to why he is on the block...
Without going nutty over statistics, Stiller may bring a bountiful return in trade. By "bountiful", we are looking at a second-rounder, tops. More likely something from the third or fourth round, but in this insane market, a pick in the second is not out of reality.
However, a 36 year-old forward with one year remaining on a 3.5 mill deal may be appealing to a handful of clubs via trade; a team which has cap space to spare in the coming season, but willing to take a chance on an admittedly "risky" player re: age/injury status, albeit one with tremendous postseason experience. And that hasn't been a concern in South Florida quite yet.
From an op/ed standpoint, "Stiller" has been a fantastic addition to the Panthers, but probably no more so than in the dressing room. Seems an easy way out, but the guy was not presented with dual Cup rings on trumped-up charges. The best of coaches and captains can only do so much with what they are handed, and Florida may have reached that precipice with Stillman.
On the plus side, who else on the Panthers' squad can claim 13 points in 9 games against former clubs?
So...does he stay or go?