Getting to know new Panthers forward Jonathan Marchessault

Raw Charge's JustinG. stops by to give us the skinny on Florida's free agent acquistion

The Florida Panthers inked Jonathan Marchessault on July 1 to help bolster it's bottom-six. We asked our pals at Raw Charge for some background information on the 25-year-old and they were kind enough to fill us in on his stin with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.

Jonathan Marchessault has been darn near a point per game player at the AHL level since his inaugural professional season with the Connecticut Whale in 2011-12, and he came close to 1/2 a point per game with Tampa Bay last season, in 45 games. At only 5'9", 174 lbs, is Marchessault a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th line player?

He's a solid bottom-six player who can chip in on the power play if injuries or bad play require it. It is possible that on the right team he could produce more, but he never really had that chance with the Lightning. While he isn't the biggest player on the ice he will grind it out with the best of them. He did have 61 hits in limited time last season. It doesn't sound like much, but then again he only played half a season.

I also think he changed his game a little bit to fit the role he was assigned by the team. He focused more on getting the puck out of his zone as opposed to forcing offense. Given his druthers, he would most likely rather be on a top flight line.

Four of his goals were scored on the power play.Only Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov scored more with the man advantage. He does a good job of finding open space and has a quick release.

At a cap hit of $750,000 the Panthers are going to get great value out of the deal. I wouldn't be surprised to see him suit up for 70+ games.

As a player who produces at such steady levels throughout his professional career, why is it that Marchessault was used so heavily by the Bolts in the defensive zone last season?

While Coach Cooper does like to mix and match lines from time to time he does have clear roles established for his players. Marchessault was part of a rotation with J.T. Brown and Erik Condra that would play a few games, be scratched for a few games, play a few games, be scratched, repeat as necessary, With the offense being carried by Stamkos, The Triplets (Tyler Johnson, Kucherov and Ondrej Palat), Alex Killorn and Valtteri Filppula there just wasn't room for him on the top lines. Now you figure Jonathan Drouin finding a spot in that lineup and there just wasn't room for him.

He saw most of his playing time in late October and November when most of those folks just listed were ravaged with injuries. At that time he did get some minutes on the second line and at one point had a six-game point streak. Once the players started getting healthy he kind of got pushed out of the rotation.

One Litter Box Cats reader noted that Marchessault had a low shooting percentage with Tampa Bay was this due to a lack of skill, or simply bad luck?

Again, I think his role dictated some of his offense. He did have a little bad luck as his PDO of 94.3 was dead last on the team. With the on-again-off-again nature of the way he was used I think there was a rust factor as well. He does a good job of getting his shots through to the net (60%). I wouldn't be surprised to see him bounce up into the 12-15% range when given a steady opportunity to play.

Did the Lightning make any reported attempts to re-sign Marchessault, and if not, why were they content to let him walk?

In all honesty, the Lightning had bigger fish to fry. Stamkos' negotiations were still on-going. Victor Hedman and Killorn were being locked up to a long-term deal and Mr. Yzerman was working to re-sign his other restricted free agents. The Lightning would like to have had him back, and he seemed to enjoy playing in Tampa. Florida swooped in early and made a good pick up.

What are Marchessault's strengths and weaknesses?

Even though the production in the NHL might not necessarily show it, he is a good puck handler and playmaker. Size is a bit of an issue, but he is not afraid to use the body. He has been a bit inconsistent when it comes to contributing. Some shifts he will seem to be the best player on the ice, and on others he won't be noticeable.

It seems that followers of the Bolts and Cats know their cross-state rival quite well. With that in mind, typically Nick Bjugstad centers the third line, and Derek MacKenzie the fourth for the Panthers. Do you have an idea of which one of these players Marchessault would compliment better as a right wing?

I would think Bjugstad. Marchessault would be a good compliment to his size and shooting. He is more engaged when playing with a center that has offensive skill. Plus the photos of the 6'6" Bjugstad next to the 5'9" Marchessault would be hilarious.

We would like to thank Justin for taking the time to fill us in on Marchessault. You can follow him on twitter at @torchramrod. Stop by Raw Charge for all things Lightning.