Best Week Ever: Panthers' '93 Expansion Draft or '11 UFA/Trade performance?

With all of the action witnessed on Friday (and a tiny bit Saturday as well) combined with several moves made in the days prior, it's darned near impossible not to rank this summer's opening of the NHL free agency period as one of the most pivotal off-ice events in the history of the Florida Panthers franchise.

Whether one heavily agrees with the signings or finds them questionable at best, few can argue many other events have so radically (re-) shaped the organization, from the many acquisitions to allowing players to walk.

I perused several substantially historic moments throughout Florida's seventeen-season timeline, and beyond two notables (the Pavel Bure seven-player trade with Vancouver and the 1993 Entry Draft; a complete bust after the Rob Niedermayer selection at number one overall), found only the '93 Expansion Draft to be so similarly consequential to the future of the club as the week just gone by. Is one really "better" than the other, or an unfair comparison? Lists of players involved and poll after the jump...

1993 NHL Expansion Draft

Panthers' picks (Anaheim was the other new club involved):

1 - John Vanbiesbrouck, G Canucks
4 - Mark Fitzpatrick, G Jets
5 - Darren Puppa, G Maple Leafs *
7 - Milan Tichy, D Blackhawks
10 - Paul Laus, D Penguins
12 - Joe Cirella, D NY Rangers
13 - Alex Godynyuk, D Flames
15 - Gord Murphy, D Stars

18  -  Steve Bancroft, D  Jets

20 - Stephane Richer, D Bruins
21 - Gord Hynes, D Flyers
24 - Tom Fitzgerald, F NY Islanders
25 - Jesse Belanger, F Canadiens

27  -  Scott Levins, F   Jets

30 - Scott Mellanby, F Oilers

32  -  Brian Skrudland, F   Flames

33 - Mike Hough, F Capitals
35 - Dave Lowry, F Blues

38  -  Bill Lindsay, F   Nordiques

40  -  Andrei Lomakin, F   Flyers

41 - Randy Gilhen, F Lightning

43  -  Doug Barrault, F   Stars

46 - Marc LaBelle, F Senators
48 - Pete Stauber, F Red Wings

* Lost to Tampa Bay in Phase II several days later; full draft rundown here

That's an awful lot of eventual local legends up there, many of which became the core of Florida's 1996 Stanley Cup Final team. This draft - composed primarily of cast-offs, has-beens, and never-will-bes - set the stage for a very successful run and increased community goodwill throughout the 90s, thanks in large part to the leadership of Bill Torrey.

June 24th to July 2nd, 2011

Acquired via Trade:

Brian Campbell, D Blackhawks
Tomas Kopecky, F Blackhawks
Kris Versteeg, F Flyers

Acquired via Free Agency:

Ed Jovanovski, D Coyotes
Jose Theodore, G Wild
Matt Bradley, F Capitals
Marcel Goc, F Predators
Scottie Upshall, F Coyotes
Sean Bergenheim, F Lightning
Tomas Fleischmann, F Avalanche

Relinquished (via trade or free agency)

Tomas Vokoun, G
Marty Reasoner, F
Darcy Hordichuk, F
Niclas Bergfors, F

...and a veritable boatload of other free agents (restricted and otherwise) throughout the system, which could include Sergei Samsonov, Shawn Matthias, and Mike Santorelli.

Of course it's not possible to peer into the future now any easier could have been done in June of 1993, but considering the sheer number of bodies involved in what has been a campaign to rid the organization of its renowned country club/retirement home atmosphere, this was a bold step forward.

So which period will go down as the more "pivotal" when history includes Tallon's efforts over the past week?

Biggest off-ice period/event in Cats' history:

'93 Expansion Draft30
'11 Free Agency Week41
Neither are comparable43