Connect with us

Florida Panthers

Kevin Stenlund: A Perfect Fit with the Florida Panthers

Published

on

Kevin Stenlund Florida Panthers
Kevin Stenlund has been a fantastic addition to the Florida Panthers this season. // Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

Since Kevin Stenlund arrived in South Florida, he has fit in with the Florida Panthers identity.

The 6-foot-5 center was one of a few players general manager Bill Zito brought in to make the Panthers a more physically imposing team on both ends of the ice.

And that is precisely what he brings.

“It’s been awesome,” Stenlund told FHN. “I’ve enjoyed every second.

“We play a style that suits me well and that helps grow confidence and trust in what you can do and are doing on the ice. It’s been really fun.”

Panthers Win 10th Straight on Road; Atop East 

The Panthers have trusted him in many big situations since he joined the team on a one-year, $1 million contract this summer.

He plays prime penalty kill minutes, and he has also played big, shutdown minutes against opposing teams’ top lines.

Stenlund leads the team in defensive zone face-offs with 261, winning 54.3 percent.

He also has a team-leading 58.1 percent efficiency in the neutral zone on 174 draws.

In short, the team trusts him and his line to get them out of the defensive zone.

“He’s huge,” Ryan Lomberg said. “Obviously, it starts off the face-off. When he goes to the dot, he’s pretty dominant. We can almost jump to where we’re supposed to be instead of worrying about helping him because, more often than not, he’s putting the draw where he wants it. That’s where it starts and we just build it from there.”

Once he gets possession of the puck, it is hard to get him off of it.

“The presence that he is, he’s so smart, he is never cheating the game, he’s always under the pucks, especially in the defensive zone, which is instrumental for our line t0 be able to pick up pucks and get possession,” Lomberg said.

“Reading into the offensive zone, he seems like he is always in the right spot. The more we play together, the more chemistry we build, but I think from the start, he is a very easy player to play with because of how smart he is.

“And for a big guy, he can move like the wind.”

His mental read of the game is a big reason he can move so quickly.

“Stenlund’s quickness comes from his read of the game,” coach Paul Maurice said. “He can get up to speed and he has a big frame there to get moving. He is a smart player.

“And at center ice, it’s even more difficult because you have to slow your game right down and speed it back up. What he needs is for the two guys he is playing with to be predictable.”

Stenlund has fit right into the fabric of the Panthers — with his line playing to the team’s identity and completely shutting down the Washington Capitals last week, for example — and has enjoyed every second of his time in South Florida.

“It’s been awesome,” Stenlund said. “All of the guys are so welcoming and it’s been easy to get into the group. Obviously, living in Florida just has all the perks, so it’s just been a pleasure.”

ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS @ TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

  • When: Saturday, 5 p.m.
  • Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM 2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Season Series — At Tampa Bay: Panthers 3, Lightning 2 (Dec. 27); Saturday. At Florida: March 16.
  • Last season: Even 2-2
  • All-time regular season series: Florida leads 76-50-19, 10 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Tuesday vs. Ottawa, 7 p.m.

Get FHN+ today!