Stanley Cup: Florida Panthers Claim 1st Stanley Cup With 2-1 Win Over Edmont...

Sheila Jackson Lee: Longtime US Rep Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who had pan...
Published Time: 25.06.2024 - 07:46:20 Modified Time: 25.06.2024 - 07:46:20

Though he went pointless in the final two games of the series, Edmonton captain Connor McDavid was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after setting a new all-time playoff record with 34 assists in 25 games. Stanley Cup, Oilers, stanley cup finals, Edmonton Oilers, oilers vs panthers

Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers lifts the Stanley Cup after Florida's 2-1 victory against

The 2023-234 NHL season has been called the best in NHL history.

Carter Verhaeghe opened the scoring for the Panthers at 4:27 of the first period, but Mattias Janmark quickly replied to tie the game for Edmonton at 6:44.

After erasing a 3-0 series deficit for force Game 7, it was no surprise that the Oilers did not go quietly. After the midpoint of the third period, they raised the pressure on Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, outshooting Florida 9-4 in the final frame and controlling more than 81 percent of expected goals at 5-on-5, according to Natural Stat Trick.

Though he went pointless in the final two games of the series, Edmonton captain Connor McDavid was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after setting a new all-time playoff record with 34 assists in 25 games.

Conn Smythe Trophy winner Connor McDavid shakes hands with Oliver Ekman-Larsson following Game 7 of


McDavid’s 42 points were the fourth-most in a single playoffs in NHL history, and he led all skaters in the 2024 playoffs by a wide margin. His teammate, Evan Bouchard, finished second with 32 points. Bouchard’s 26 assists set an all-time record for assists by a defenseman.

McDavid is just the sixth Conn Smythe winner of all time to come from a losing team. He’s the first since goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003, and the first non-goalie since Reggie Leach with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1976.

By scoring the first goal for the first time since Game 3, the Panthers put themselves in the driver’s seat early on. They had a 9-2 record in the playoffs when they got the first goal. Holding the lead at the end of the second improved their odds even more — they were 9-0 in that situation heading into Game 7.

The win makes Florida the second-straight first-time winner of the Stanley Cup, after the Panthers lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games in 2023.

It’s a fairy-tale ending for a team that has enjoyed the most success in its franchise history over the past few years. That started with a Presidents’ Trophy win as the league’s best regular-season team in 2021-22. Then, a late-season surge earned them the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference in 2022-23 — an opportunity that they rode all the way to the Final.

For the last two seasons, the Panthers were guided behind the bench by Paul Maurice — the 57-year-old whose 1,849 NHL games coached are second all-time behind only Scotty Bowman. That had also made him the longest-tenured NHL coach never to have won the Stanley Cup.

Head coach Paul Maurice behind the bench of Game Seven of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final (Photo by Andy

The torch has now been passed to Lindy Ruff, who is back with the Buffalo Sabres for a second tour of duty after 1,774 games coached. Though he doesn’t have a title, he was on the losing end of one of the most controversial Stanley Cup Finals when the Dallas Stars beat the Sabres in 1999.

Since taking over as the Panthers’ general manager in 2020, Bill Zito has been named a finalist for the NHL’s general manager of the year award three times. He has been aggressive in remaking his roster but two of the foundational pieces of his team were drafted and developed by the Panthers. Captain Aleksander Barkov, drafted second overall in 2013, just became the first Finnish-born captain ever to hoist the Stanley Cup. And 2014’s first-overall pick, Aaron Ekblad, has been an anchor on defense for nearly a decade.

In three days, the 2024 NHL Awards event will take place in Las Vegas. Barkov has already been named the winner of the Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward, for the second time. Bobrosvky is a finalist for the Vezina as the league’s top goalie — an award that he won with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2013 and 2017.

Then, the 2024 NHL Draft runs Friday and Saturday in Vegas. Barring any trades, the Panthers won’t be picking until Round 3 on Day 2 and will have just five picks in total.

But the opening of free agency in a week’s time, on July 1, looks like it will be a busy day for Zito and his team. According to CapFriendly, Florida has just 14 players signed for next season, and less than $20 million in cap space to work with.

Their most important potential free agent is Reinhart, who just capped off a breakout 57-goal regular season with the Cup-winning goal, and is one of the biggest fish in this year’s free-agency pond. Defenseman Brandon Montour is also due for a big payday, and goaltender Anthony Stolarz was outstanding in a backup role behind Bobrovsky this year.

Many of the veterans who were with Florida on short-term deals proved to be crucial to the team’s championship run. Could Zito find enough cap space to bring impending UFAs like Vladimir Tarasenko, Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Dmitry Kulikov back next season?

That’s a question for tomorrow. Tonight, it’s time to celebrate in Sunrise.

One Community. Many Voices. Create a free account to share your thoughts. 

Our community is connecting through open and thoughtful conversations. We want our readers to share their views and exchange ideas and facts in a safe space.