Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito went panning for gold again Sunday in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks.
The Panthers will get defenseman Olli Juolevi in exchange for Juho Lammikko and Noah Juulsen.
The fifth-overall pick in the 2016 draft, Juolevi has not lived up to his high draft slot but perhaps a change of scenery in South Florida will turn things around.
Hey, it’s worked before, right?
Florida did not give up much, basically swapping AHL defensemen as word out of Vancouver was the Canucks had planned to place Juolevi on waivers and, had he cleared, sent him to Abbotsford.
The Panthers had already waived and assigned Juulsen to Charlotte — after claiming him off waivers from Montreal last training camp.
Giving up Lammikko seems to be the big loss for the Panthers although by trading him, it appears he was not going to make Florida’s initial 23-man roster although he had looked good in training camp.
To get Lammikko to AHL Charlotte and keep him, Florida would have had to put him on waivers. He was likely to have been lost anyway.
Lammikko, who got his scoring grove back playing in Finland, increased his offensive production with the Panthers last season and showed he was not afraid to get in and mix things up.
He will fit in fine with the Canucks in a bottom line role with a lot of penalty killing to come.
“It has been OK, I have just been trying to improve my game,” Lammikko said Thursday in Tampa when asked about how his camp had been going.
“Last year I came when the season started and I had to quarantine so I started late. It’s better to skate from the start so this has been good. One thing when you play a bottom-6 role, you have to bring a lot of energy to the table. Be physical and stuff.”
The Panthers are deep at forward even without the injured Noel Acciari and the subtraction of Lammikko may mean they were leaning toward keeping center Eetu Luostarinen instead of Lammikko.
Rookie Anton Lundell has also looked pretty strong since he started skating with the team last week and appears to have solidified his spot on the 23.
As far as Juolevi goes, Florida saw a spot open up Saturday when Kevin Connauton sustained a lower body injury against the Lightning with Joel Quenneville saying he could be out a few weeks.
Connauton had apparently won the final spot on the Florida defense and now Juolevi takes that — unless the Panthers traded for him just to place him on waivers which is probably not the case.
The Panthers likely won’t see Juolevi for a bit due to visa and travel issues but he is expected to be placed on the 23-man roster regardless.
Juolevi, 23, has been slowed by injuries since being drafted by the Canucks and constantly heard about players Vancouver should have taken that high instead of him.
As is the case with Sam Bennett and Calgary last season, the Panthers don’t care where Juolevi was drafted — they are going to give him a chance to succeed.