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The "Hindsight is 20/20" Florida Panthers Team: Defensemen

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Today we take a look at the players the Panthers could have had manning the blue line had they been better at the draft table.

Yes, that is the Norris Trophy defenseman that I have sequestered for my dream team.
Yes, that is the Norris Trophy defenseman that I have sequestered for my dream team.
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers have probably been the NHL's most incompetent franchise over the past 15 seasons, even more so than the Edmonton Oilers, who at least made a Stanley Cup run back in 2006. A large part of that incompetence stems from the team's draft history from 2000-2009, before current general manager Dale Tallon took over in May of 2010.

With that in mind, I went back and tried to determine just how good our teams could have been if they would have been perfect at the draft tables. I did set up some rules before doing this, however.

  • I could only change selections if the desired player was taken 1-10 spots behind the player the team actually took. That way, we keep the draft rankings at least slightly intact, as there is usually a good reason why certain players are taken in the first round, and others are taken in the seventh.
  • If the team traded their first round selection that year, I undid the trade and treated that pick as if the Panthers had been the team making the selection. This only happened twice; in 2003, when they essentially swapped Marc-Andre Fleury for Nathan Horton, and in 2008, when the team trade for Tomas Vokoun.
  • I aimed to build the best possible team for the 2015-2016 season, not the best team for any previous seasons. I tried to keep it salary cap compliant, but that made it no fun, so don't worry about the cap hits. I've included the player's statistics from 2014-2015 for reference.
  • I only looked at drafts from 2000-2009. Dale has done a pretty good job with his selections.
For a look at the first edition of this series, please take a look at our breakdown of the centers the Cats could of had. If you missed our earlier post that broke down the team's new left wingers, that can be found here. If you have missed everything up to this point, here is our look at the team's new right wingers.

And now, here's the team's new defensemen (warning: they are, like, really really good.):

RD Erik Karlsson

Panthers never trade 1st round draft pick in 2008, take Erik Karlsson with 9th overall selection
Player GP G A PTS Rel SAT% PIM
Erik Karlsson 82 21 45 66 4.0% 42

Erik Karlsson won the Norris Trophy in 2014-2015, so it's safe to say that he is good at hockey and deserves to be on this completely fictional Florida Panthers team.

LD Ryan McDonagh

Replaces Keaton Ellerby as 10th overall selection in 2007
Player GP G A PTS Rel SAT% PIM
Ryan McDonagh 71 8 25 33 -1.6% 26

Talk about an unfair top pairing. Both Ryan McDonagh and Erik Karlsson are considered by many to among the league's top 10 defensemen, and both of them playing on the same pairing, let alone the same team, gives this made up Panthers team a huge advantage over the rest of the league.

RD P.K. Subban

Replaces Michal Repik as the 40th overall selection in 2007
Player GP G A PTS Rel SAT% PIM
P.K. Subban 82 15 45 60 5.7% 74

The top defensive pairing on the Hindsight team was already bordering on All-Star caliber, and having P.K. Subban means you get to play either him or Erik Karlsson on the second pairing, where they will eat the opposition up and spit them out. Seriously, can you imagine having P.K. Subban be free of crushing defensive responsibility? He would tear up the league, even more so than he already does. It would be amazing...

LD Roman Josi

Replaces Jacob Markstrom as the 31st overall selection in 2008
Player GP G A PTS Rel SAT% PIM
Roman Josi 81 15 40 55 -4.4% 26

When I went through the draft history of the Panthers, I did it in chronological order, starting with the year 2000 and moving my way up to the year 2009. I remember being concerned about the team's defense, having only found a handful of NHL caliber defensemen from years 2000-2006. Then I hit 2007 and 2008, and what would be the most dominant top four in the history of the sport was born. Too bad this is for a completely fake hockey team...

RD Dmitry Kulikov

Originally taken by the Panthers with the 14th overall selection in 2009
Player GP G A PTS Rel SAT% PIM
Dmitry Kulikov 73 3 19 22 -1.3% 48

There were other, more established players that I could have taken, but I chose Kulikov because I think that if he's given beneficial usage in 2015-2016, he could really surprise some people with his point production. Also, he proved in 2014-2015 that he can handle a shutdown role, and with a high octane, offensively minded defense like this, having a shutdown guy takes some pressure off of the scorers, and lets them flourish in a more offensive role.

LD Keith Yandle

Replaces Matt Duffy as the 104th overall selection in 2005
Player GP G A PTS Rel SAT% PIM
Keith Yandle 84 6 46 52 1.0% 40

The sixth and final defender on this insanely overpowered back end is Keith Yandle, who also happens to be the oldest at 28-years-old.

What we learned

The Panthers whiffed on a lot of defenseman from 2007-2008. The Ellerby one stings the most, especially since the 10th overall pick never panned out and played a grand total of 212 NHL games, scoring 27 points, before heading to the KHL.

Stay tuned for the end of the "Hindsight is 20/20" team, as LBC will be rolling out the goaltenders that the Florida Panthers could have had, if the scouting staff was perfect and could predict the future.