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Florida Panthers by the numbers: Number 4

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Eight Cats wore this digit - choose your favorite

Florida Panthers v Atlanta Thrashers Photo by Scott Cunningham/NHLI via Getty Images

The number four has been worn by a total of eight Florida Panthers in franchise history, from the original holder Keith Brown to Dylan Olsen, the most recent to sport the digit. Like the numbers two and three, everyone of the players to wear the number has been a defenseman. Let’s take a look at the cast of characters...

Keith Brown

After a 14-year run with the Chicago Blackhawks after being selected seventh overall in 1979 NHL Entry Draft, the Panthers acquired Brown right before the franchise played its first game in exchange for forward Darin Kimble. The grizzled Brown played 51 games for the Cats in 1993-94 and scored 4 goals and 8 assists and racked up 60 PIM. He only made 13 appearances during the 1994-95 campaign before calling it a career. He played a total of 876 NHL games, scoring 68 goals and 274 assists for 342 points.

Per Gustafsson

The Panthers selected this veteran Swedish defenseman in the 11th round (261st overall) of the 1994 draft. After playing his seventh and eighth seasons with HV71, he came to North America and played 58 games with the Cats in 1996-97, putting up 7 goals and 22 assists. Florida traded him to the Toronto Maple Leafs on June 12, 1997 for prospect Mike Lankshear. Gustafsson played for Toronto and the Ottawa Senators during the 1997-98 campaign before returning to Sweden and HV71, where he played another 11 seasons and set many franchise records for a defenseman.

John Jakopin

A fourth round draft choice (97th overall) of the Detroit Red Wings in 1997, the hard-hitting Jakopin played a total of 82 games for the Cats over four seasons, including a career-high 60 during the 2000-01 campaign. During that season Jakopin scored his first NHL goal and added two assists, his only points with the franchise. Jakopin wore the number four in just two games in 1998, so he just squeaks in to this article, before he switched over to 15 for the rest of his time in Florida in 1999. The Pittsburgh Penguins claimed Jakopin on waivers on Octber 2, 2001. He played 19 NHL games for the Penguins that season and 12 more for the San Jose Sharks the following season. His spent his last two professional seasons in North America exclusively in the AHL and retired in 2005 after some time in Slovenia.

Bret Hedican

A tenth round selection (198th overall) of the St. Louis Blues in 1988, Hedican spent two seasons with his original club, and after five seasons with the Vancouver Canucks (that included a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1994 ) before he was traded to the Florida Panthers with Pavel Bure, Brad Ference and Vancouver’s 3rd round choice (Robert Fried) in the 2000 draft for Ed Jovanovski, Dave Gagner, Mike Brown, Kevin Weekes and Florida’s first round choice in 2000 on January 17, 1999. The speedy Hedican spent parts of four seasons with the Cats, playing in 202 games and producing 17 goals and 65 points. He was traded, along with two prospects, to the Carolina Hurricanes for Sandis Ozolinsh and Byron Ritchie on January 16, 2002. He would spend five and a half seasons with the Hurricanes, where he won his only Stanley Cup in 2006. Hedican retired after playing the 2008-09 season with the Anaheim Ducks.

Jay Bouwmeester

Bouwmeester was the third overall pick at the 2002 NHL Entry Draft and was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team in 2003 after playing in all 82 games and produced 4 goals and 16 points. He played seven seasons with the Panthers organization before he was traded to the Calgary Flames. Bouwmeester put up a career-high 46 points in 2005-06 and posted back-to-back 15 goal (career-high) seasons in 2007-08 and 2008-09, After failing to come to terms with the defenseman on a new deal, Randy Sexton traded his negotiating rights to the Flames on June 27, 2009 for the rights to Jordan Leopold and a third round pick (Josh Birkholz) in the 2009 draft. Bouwmeester played four seasons with Calgary before he moved on to the St, Louis Blues, where played another eight years and won a Stanley Cup in 2019. A constant in the lineup, Bouwmeester played a total of 471 games for Florida, producing 203 points. He was the best player to wear the number, but was never really beloved by the fans. On February 11, 2020, Bouwmeester went into cardiac arrest on the Blues bench. He has since recovered, but it’s unknown if he’ll ever play again.

Dennis Seidenberg

The Panthers signed the then 28-year-old to a one-year, $2.25 million contract on September 14, 2009 after the German-born blueliner spent time with the Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes and Carolina Hurricanes. In his one and only season with Florida, Seidenberg appeared in 62 games and scored two goals and 21 assists before he was traded to the Boston Bruins, along with Matt Bartkowski, on 3 March 3, 2010 for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller, and a second round draft pick in a what turned out to a poor decision by GM Randy Sexton. Seidenberg re-upped with the Bruins and spent the next six years in Beantown before moving on to the New York Islanders for his final two NHL seasons.

Keaton Ellerby

Taken tenth overall by Jacques Martin in 2007, Ellerby ended up playing 125 games for the Panthers and a total of 212 in his NHL career, so to call him an outright bust would be unfair. He just never should have been chosen that high. Ryan McDonagh went two picks later and Kevin Shattenkirk went two picks after that... ugh. Ellerby played a career-high 54 games (2G/10A) with the Cats in 2010-11 and then another 40 the following season. After 9 additional games in 2012-13, Dale Tallon had seen enough and on February 8, 2013, Ellerby was traded by the Panthers to the Los Angeles Kings for a fifth-round selection in the 2013 draft. Ellerby played 35 games for the Kings and another 52 for the Winnipeg Jets before heading over to Europe. He produced two goals and five assists in his time with the Cats.

Dylan Olsen

Originally drafted by Chicago in the first round (28th overall) of the 2009 draft, Olsen was traded by the Blackhawks to the Panthers along with Jimmy Hayes in exchange for Kris Versteeg and Philippe Lefebvre on November 14, 2013. Olsen scored his first NHL goal as a member of the Panthers on December 5, 2013 against Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec. He played 44 games (3G/9A) with the Cats in 2013-14 and another 44 games (2G/6A) the following season. Following the 2015-16 campaign, which saw Olsen play 8 games with Florida and 47 games with the Portland Pirates, the Panthers decided not re-sign him and he moved on to the Nanton Palominos of the Ranchland Hockey League. Olsen is still active and spent this past season with HK Nitra in Slovakia.

Poll

Who is your favorite Panthers number #4?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Keith Brown
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Per Gustafsson
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    John Jakopin
    (1 vote)
  • 22%
    Bret Hedican
    (12 votes)
  • 61%
    Jay Bouwmeester
    (33 votes)
  • 7%
    Dennis Seidenberg
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Keaton Ellerby
    (0 votes)
  • 3%
    Dylan Olsen
    (2 votes)
54 votes total Vote Now