Florida Panthers by the numbers: Number 6
Fifteen Cats have worn this digit - choose your favorite
The number six has been worn by a total of fifteen Florida Panthers, all defensemen, in franchise history, That ties it with the numbers 17, and somewhat surprisingly, 23 as the most used number for the team. The original holder was journeyman Greg Smyth and it’s currently being sported by grizzled veteran Anton Stralman. Due to the amount of the players, the accompanying blurbs will be smaller than usual. Let’s take a look at this “sixy” cast of characters...
Smyth signed as free agent with Florida in July, 1993 as the club prepared to open its first-ever season in the NHL. He played a mere 12 games with the club before he was traded north to the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 7 for future considerations. During his brief time in Miami, he collected just a single point, a goal.
The Panthers acquired the Swedish defenseman from the New York Rangers late in its inaugural campaign on March 21, 1994 and he played eight games for the Cats, producing one goal and one assist. After the season, he returned to Europe and never returned to the NHL.
The Cats sent Jeff Daniels (the forward, not the actor) to the Detroit Red Wings for Woolley, who was toiling for the IHL’s Detroit Vipers at the time, on February 14, 1995. Woolley would play a total of 89 regular season games (10G/37A) for the Panthers before he was traded, along with Stu Barnes, to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the ill-fated Chris Wells deal. He played in 13 games and put up two goals and eight points during Florida’s run to the 1996 Stanley Cup Final.
The Panthers acquired Norton, along with Dino Ciccarelli, from the Tampa Bay Lightning for Mark Fitzpatrick and Jody Hull on January 15, 1998. Norton played 19 games and put up 7 assists after that trade. He played just three games with the Cats to start the 1998-99 campaign before he was moved to the San Jose Sharks for Alex Hicks. Norton, now wearing number five, returned to Sunrise and played 29 games with the Panthers at the beginning of the 2001-02 season before he was traded to the Boston Bruins for a sixth round draft pick.
A first round pick (25th overall) of the Colorado Avalanche in 1996, Ratchuk was signed as a free agent by the Panthers prior to the 1998–99 season. He played 32 games with the Cats over two seasons and produced one goal and one assist. After leaving Florida, he spent most of the rest of his career in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.
A product of Miami University, Boyle was signed as a free agent by the Panthers on March 30, 1998. He played a total of 129 games (10G/29A) for the club before he was traded to the Lightning in exchange for a 2003 fifth-round draft pick (Martin Tůma) on January 7, 2002. Boyle would go on to blossom on the Gulf Coast and won the Stanley Cup with Florida’s nearest neighbor in 2004.
On November 26, 2002, the Los Angeles Kings traded Lilja and Jaroslav Bednar to the Panthers for Dmitry Yushkevic and a fifth round pick in 2003. Lilja played a total of 135 games for the Cats, producing seven goals and 19 points. After spending the 2004-05 lockout season in Sweden, Lilja returned to the NHL and joined the Red Wings.
On February 27, 2007, Welch, the 54th overall pick in 2001, was traded by the Penguins to the Panthers in exchange for Gary Roberts. After two seasons with the Panthers, Welch was traded, with a third round draft pick, to the Lightning for defenseman Steve Eminger. Welch played a total of 27 games with the Cats and scored two goals and added one assist.
A long-time veteran of the Swedish Elite League, Johansson was traded by the Chicago Blackhawks to the Panthers on January 10, 2008 for a seventh round pick in 2009. He played 27 games for Florida after the deal and assisted on ten goals. He played the next season in the KHL before heading back to Sweden to finish his career.
After two seasons with the Nashville Predators, Finnish veteran Koistinen signed a two-year contract with the Panthers on July 1, 2009. After he appeared in 17 games (1G/3A), the Cats placed Koistinen on waivers on November 25. When he went unclaimed, he was sent down to the Rochester Americans. His contract was bought out the following summer and he returned to Europe for good.
On June 22, 2010, the Bruins traded Wideman, their first round draft pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and their third round pick in 2011 to Florida for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell. Wideman played a solid 61 games (9G/24A) for the Cats before was dealt to the Washington Capitals for Jake Hauswirth and the Caps 2011 third round draft pick.
The Panthers signed free-agent Whitney to a one-year deal on September 29, 2013. Whitney appeared in seven scoreless games with the Panthers before he was placed on waivers on November 8. Unclaimed, Whitney was assigned to the San Antonio Rampage for the remainder of the season where he played in 45 games and put up 23 points.
Surprisingly, Petrovic is the only home-grown Panther to ever the wear the number six. Chosen in the second round (36th overall) of the 2010 draft, after some time in the minors the tough Petrovic went on to appear in 258 games (5G/44A/358PIM) with the Cats before he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers on December 30, 2018 for the next guy on our list.
Wideman came to the Panthers from the Oilers along with a third round in the 2019 draft that Florida would use to select ascendant prospect, Johnny Ludvig. He only played one game for the Cats and 16 for the Springfield Thunderbirds before he was traded to Pittsburgh for minor-leaguer Jean-Sebastien Dea on February 25.
After five seasons with the Lightning, Stralman left as a free agent this summer to sign a three-year, $16.5 million contract with the Panthers on July 1. In his first regular season with the Cats, which is still pending as of today, he has appeared in all 69 games and produced five goals and 14 assists.
Who is your favorite Number 6?