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New Florida Panthers Get Their Numbers. Who Wore Them Best?

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Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov wears his new jersey — with his old No. 7 on it — as he reads to children at the Broward County South Regional Library in Pembroke Pines on Monday afternoon. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

There was a lot of angst coming from Florida Panthers fans a few weeks ago when a Tweet was sent out saying Steven Lorentz would be wearing No. 11 this coming season. 

Those digits, obviously, were last worn here by Jonathan Huberdeau before he was sent to Calgary in the Matthew Tkachuk blockbuster. 

Well, after some internal discussions within the Panthers, Huberdeau’s No. 11 was not given to Lorentz or anyone else — yet.

On Monday, the team released which numbers their new players would be wearing and Lorentz will wear No. 18.

As in the past, we like to look at the new numbers — and who, in franchise history, represented those numbers the best. 

Was Huberdeau the first to wear No. 11 with the Panthers?

No, but he did wear it best — apologies, of course, to Billy Lindsay and Gregory Campbell.

When one sees a No. 11 on a Florida jersey, the first name many will think of is Huberdeau.

Is that the case with any of the numbers officially assigned by the Florida Panthers on Monday?

Here are the numbers Florida’s new players will wear this coming season with who wore it first — and who wore it best:

No. 6: D Mike Reilly

Who Wore It First: Peter Andersson (1994); Greg Smyth (1994); Jason Woolley (1995-97); Jeff Norton (1998-99); Peter Ratchuk (1999); Dan Boyle (2000); Andreas Lilja (2003-04); Noah Welch (2007); Magnus Johansson (2008); Ville Koistinen (2010); Dennis Wideman (2011); Ryan Whitney (2014); Alexander Petrovic (2016-19); Chris Wideman (2019); Anton Stralman (2020-21); Colin White (2022-23).

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Who Wore It Best: Woolley was not an original member of the Panthers, but he was a fan favorite and a big part of the team’s run to the 1996 Stanley Cup Final. Woolley, who spent 14 seasons in the league, also went to the Cup Final with the Sabres.

No. 7: D Dmitry Kulikov

Who Wore It First: Brian Benning (1993-94); Mike Casselman (1996); Rhett Warrener (1996-99); Mike Wilson (1999-2001); Matt Herr (2002); Pavel Trnka (2003-04); Alexander Karpovtsev (2005-06); Steve Montador (2006-08); Noah Welch (2008-09); Dmitry Kulikov (2010-16); Colton Sceviour (2016-20); Radko Gudas (2021-23).

Who Wore It Best: Going with a tie here. Radko Gudas and, the guy who got it back in Dmitry Kulikov. It is hard to quantify how much Gudas meant to the Panthers over the past three seasons and what a favorite of fans he became. It was not a long run, but it was a pretty darned good one. But Kulikov was Florida’s first-round pick in 2009 and played right from the get becoming a well-rounded defenseman who spent seven seasons in Sunrise before being traded to Buffalo. He’s back and is happy to have his old number — albeit with a different logo that the one he wore before. It looks good on him.

No. 17: F Evan Rodrigues

Who Wore It First: Mike Foligno (1993-94); Jody Hull (1994); Dave Tomlinson (1995); Jason Podollan (1997); Steve Washburn (1997-99); Viacheslav Butsayev (1999); Ryan Johnson (1999-2003); Dwyane Hay (2000); Greg Adams (2001); Matt Cullen (2003-04); Garth Murray (2008); Kenndal McArdle (2011); Jon Matsumoto (2012); Filip Kuba (2013); Jesse Winchester (2014); Derek MacKenzie (2014-19); Mason Marchment (2021-22).

Who Wore It Best: Marchment had a nice run with the Panthers but only wore this number for one season. While many have worn No. 17 over the years, only one was named captain of the team as Derek MacKenzie was a leader on and off the ice.

No. 18: F Steven Lorentz

Who Wore It First: Mike Hough (1993-97); Alex Hicks (1999); Cam Stewart (2000); Marcus Nilson (2000-04); Ville Peltonen (2006-09); Shawn Matthias (2010-14); Reilly Smith (2015-17); Micheal Haley (2017-19); Robert Hagg (2022); Marc Staal (2022-23).

Who Wore It Best: Peltonen, Matthias and Smith had their moments wearing this number with the Panthers, but we have to go with Hough as he was not only an original member of the team but was an instrumental part of the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Final. Well, so was Staal.

No. 41: G Anthony Stolarz

Who Wore It First: Stephane Richer (1994); Serge Payer (2001); Andrei Podkonicky (2001); Ryan Jardine (2002); Nick Smith (2002); Mike Green (2004); Shawn Matthias (2007-10); Greg McKegg (2015-17).

Who Wore It Best: Matthias wore this number for only a few seasons (see above) but those were his first with the Panthers after being a second-round pick in 2006. Seven of Matthias’ 11 NHL seasons came with the Panthers, a run which ended in 2014 when he was part of the Roberto Luongo deal with Vancouver.

No. 77: D Niko Mikkola

Who Wore It First: Chris Gratton (2005-07); Tom Gilbert (2014); Steven Kampfer (2016-17); Frank Vatrano (2019-22).

Who Wore It Best: Vatrano started his career with the Panthers by wearing No. 72 but traded it to Sergei Bobrovsky for a Rolex watch, some nice bottles of wine and a sack full of McDonalds. Not bad. Vatrano liked the number so much, he kept it upon being traded to the Rangers in 2022 and still wears it with the Anaheim Ducks.

No. 82: C Kevin Stenlund

Who Wore It First: Tomas Kopecky (2011-15)

Who Wore It Best: This is a tough one. For those of you who may not remember, Kopecky was a big part of Florida’s return to the playoffs during the 2011-12 season after coming to the team from Chicago. He was among the most popular players among his teammates and was a pretty darned good player to boot.

No. 91: D Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Who Wore It First: Juho Lammikko (2018-19); Anthony Duclair (2021)

Who Wore It Best: The Duke. Although he only wore this number for one season — he switched to No. 10 the following year after Brett Connolly had been traded — Duclair helped get the Panthers back to the playoffs during the Covid-shortened season with a bounceback year which earned him a contract extension with the team.

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