The Florida Panthers are Presidents’ Trophy winners for the first time in franchise history, finishing the regular season with 122 points.
Florida claimed the NHL’s top spot in the standings on Thursday after defeating Ottawa 4-0 and seeing Colorado lose to Nashville 5-4 in a shootout.
This was just the second season where Florida had ever eclipsed 100 points, following a 103-point effort in 2015-16.
TOP OF THE LEAGUE 🏆
— NHL (@NHL) April 29, 2022
Interestingly, the Presidents Trophy winner hasn’t historically fared well in the NHL playoffs. Since 2001-02, the league’s top point-getter has won the Stanley Cup only three times: Detroit in 2002 and 2008, and Chicago in 2013. That was also the last time a Presidents’ Trophy winner even appeared in the Cup Final.
The Panthers will attempt to change that narrative when the postseason opens on May 2. Florida has been one of the NHL’s most dominant offensive squads all year, with four players past the 30-goal mark and as the only club to average more than four goals per game.
GM Bill Zito did all he could at March’s trade deadline to make the Panthers even better. He went all-in acquiring Ben Chiarot from Montreal for, among other assets, a 2023 first-round pick, and Zito brought in former Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux for a package that included another first-round draft choice.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Florida though. The Panthers have weathered their share of injury issues, particularly to captain Aleksander Barkov. Top-pairing defenseman Aaron Ekblad has also been sidelined since mid-March with an injury; the team is hopeful he’ll be able to return in the first round, though.
Getting Ekblad back would be especially helpful given where the Panthers’ have struggled. The team’s overall depth of offensive gifts has had to save them more often of late from defensive and goaltending lapses. Florida is the NHL’s leader in win percentage (.407) when trailing after two periods, a playing-from-behind problem that became more pronounced as the regular season wound down.
But often, Florida’s goal-scoring prowess has seen them through storms. Now the Panthers enter the NHL’s second season with a target on their back at the top team to beat.