Welcome back to another edition of the all-time Panthers roster countdown, where we keep our feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars. If you don't know the details on how the list was compiled, click here for more information.
Last week, we reviewed center Stu Barnes (191 games, 49 goals, 72 assists), right winger Ray Sheppard (190 games, 61 goals, 60 assists), defenseman Terry Carkner (279 games, six goals, 40 assists), defenseman Jason Garrison (190 games, 23 goals, 36 assists), left winger David Booth (309 games, 87 goals, 80 assists), defenseman Mike Van Ryn (257 games, 25 goals, 80 assists), and defenseman Bryan McCabe (199 games, 28 goals, 76 assists). In today's article, we're getting a look at Florida's first ever draft choice, a center from Cassier, BC.
Move along, nothing to see here....
17. Rob Niedermayer
Niedermayer was a right handed 6'1" center from Cassier, British Columbia. He earned his hockey chops in juniors starting in 1990-91 with the WHL Medicine Hat Tigers. In 194 games over three seasons with Medicine Hat, Rob scored 99 goals and 106 assists. The NHL took notice of his skillset, and in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft the Florida Panthers selected him with the fifth overall pick, Florida's first ever entry draft selection (their first ever draft selection was John Vanbiesbrouck, two days earlier in the expansion draft).
1993-94 would open with Niedermayer front and center as part of Florida's long term plans. He notched an assist in Florida's first ever NHL regular season contest, a 4-4 tie with the Chicago Blackhawks on October 6th. He had four multi-point games that season, including two goals in a 4-1 Panthers win over the Ottawa Senators on Groundhog Day, 1994. The 19-year old rookie scored nine goals on 65 shots, adding 17 assists. He posted a minus-11 rating with 51 penalty minutes.
Niedermayer appeared in each of Florida's 48 games in 1994-95 as the season was shortened by the players strike. After starting the season out with seven points in his first 12 games, he went cold, totalling three points through the rest of the season. He scored four goals total on 58 shots, pitching in six assists, a minus-13 rating, and 36 penalty minutes. It was almost certainly the worst season of his career with the Panthers.
1995-96, however, was Niedermayer's most productive NHL season. He put up 15 multi-point performances, including two three-point games. On December 16th, he scored a goal and two assists in a 7-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. He would reprise the feat in the regular season finale, in a 5-1 win over the New York Rangers on April 14. In 22 playoff matches, he scored five times with three helpers as the Panthers won the Eastern Conference title before getting swept by the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Finals. Most of his offensive numbers on the campaign represented personal career highs which he never again approached, including goals (26), assists (35), points, (61), shots on goal (155), shooting percentage (16.8), goals created (23), penalty minutes (107), power play goals (11) and game winning goals (6). His goals and points total ranked second on the team behind teammate Scott Mellanby.
1996 Panthers vs. Bruins Game 1 (via Disengage)
In 1996-97, Niedermayer scored multiple points in eight out of 60 contests, including a season high three (one goal, two assists) in a 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on January 4th. He scored 14 goals on 136 shots, dishing out 24 assists. He registered a plus-4 rating and collected 54 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, he tied for the Panthers lead with two goals in five games, also collecting an assist as the Panthers were evicted from Lord Stanley's tournament in five by the Rangers.
1997-98 would see Niedermayer play in only 33 Panthers games due to various ailments, including a concussion. He scored two points on three occasions, including two goals in a New Years Day, 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. He totalled eight goals on 64 shots with seven assists, a minus-9 rating, and 41 penalty minutes.
Niedermayer would rebound to play in each of Florida's 82 games in 1998-99, including 10 multi-point efforts. He had a season high three points with two goals and an assist on October 30th in a 7-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. His 51 total points on the season ranked him in a tie for second on the Panthers. Out of 142 shots, he potted 18, adding 33 assists. His 21:17 of ice time ranked first amongst Panthers forwards with more than 11 games played. He was one of three Panthers to appear in every game (along with Kirk Muller and Radek Dvorak).
In 1999-00, Niedermayer totalled multiple points in seven of 81 contests, including three (one goal, two assists) in a 6-3 win over the Calgary Flames on November 6th. He averaged 19:04 of TOI, scoring 10 goals on 135 shots and dishing out 23 assists (both good for seventh on the team). He had a minus-5 rating and 46 penalty minutes. The Panthers last postseason appearance for 11 seasons would feature the team getting swept in four games by the New Jersey Devils. Niedermayer managed to score one goal in the series.
2000-01 would see Niedermayer play in 67 games. He notched a career high three assists in a 7-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on February 10th. In total, he collected 12 goals on 115 shots while averaging 20:30 per game. He also made 20 assists, spent 50 minutes in the penalty box, and finished with a minus-12 rating. After the season, the Panthers sent him to the Calgary Flames with a second round pick (Andrei Medvedev) for Valeri Bure and Jason Wiemer.
After playing in parts of two seasons with the Flames (111 games, 14 goals, 24 assists), Niedermayer also saw action with the Anaheim Ducks (382 games, 56 goals, 68 assists), the New Jersey Devils (71 games, 10 goals, 12 assists), and the Buffalo Sabres (71 games, five goals, 14 assists). He played 14 games with Lugano in the Swiss-A League in 2011-12 (two goals, four assists).
Niedermayer ranks in Florida's top 10 in most offensive categories. When he left the club after the 2000-01 season, he was one of only two original Panthers still on the club (with defenseman Paul Laus). For eight seasons, when health allowed, he provided the Panthers with a solid, sometimes spectacular option on the top line at center. Still only 37 years old as of this writing, he may yet have something to offer an NHL franchise.
All-Time Statline: Eight seasons (fourth all-time), 518 games (seventh all-time), 101 goals (seventh all-time), 165 assists (sixth all-time), 266 points (eighth all-time), minus-58 rating (last all-time), 435 PIM (eighth all-time), 20.6 APS.
Thanks for spending a small part of your day here with us at LBC. Make sure to check back tomorrow as we take a look at another original Panther, a defenseman who tops Florida's all-time leaderboard with over 1,700 penalty minutes.