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The Florida Panthers are on a mission this season, and they made their elite roster even better by adding Vladimir Tarasenko from the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. Unfortunately for Ottawa, the Panthers were able to get him for a surprisingly cheap price.

Tarasenko brings 17 goals with him down to Florida, making an already imposing lineup even more formidable as the playoffs approach. Tarasenko should be a nice fit for the Panthers on the wing, and that upgrade cost them next to nothing.

Meanwhile, the Senators needed to unload Tarasenko before the deadline to recoup some assets for a pending unrestricted free agent. The circumstances of the deal worked against Ottawa and produced an underwhelming return for a skilled player.

Let's break out our red pens and hand out some grades on the Panthers' acquisition of Tarasenko.

The deal

  • To Florida: Vladimir Tarasenko (50% retained)
  • To Ottawa: 2024 conditional 4th-round pick, 2025 3rd-round pick

Florida Panthers

The Panthers didn't necessarily need to make any changes at this deadline. They are 21-4-2 in their last 27 games, and there aren't any clear flaws on the roster. That said, Florida's time to strike is now, and the team is taking full advantage of its Stanley Cup window.

If there was one nitpick with this Panthers team, it's that they were missing more consistent scoring on the wings. Sam Reinhart, Carter Verhaeghe and Matthew Tkachuk have been carrying most of the offensive burden in 2023-24. They will get some assistance with the addition of Tarasenko, who immediately becomes the fourth-leading scorer in Florida with 17 goals.

Tarasenko comes with an impressive offensive pedigree, including five 30-goal seasons and one 40-goal season in his 12-year career. Although he may not be able to score at that rate anymore, Tarasenko will still provide the Panthers with an influx of scoring. According to Natural Stat Trick, Tarasenko is scoring at a rate of 1.11 goals/60. That is better than all but two Panthers -- Reinhart and Verhaeghe.

Once Tarasenko arrives in Florida, he should have a top-six spot waiting for him. Right now, Nick Cousins is playing on the second line with Sam Bennett and Tkachuk. I have to imagine Paul Maurice will slot Tarasenko on that line, which would allow Cousins to play in a more appropriate role lower in the lineup.

If there is a knock on this acquisition, it's that Tarasenko doesn't necessarily have any impact on the defensive end. Florida is committed to defense throughout the lineup, and the Senators bled chances against when Tarasenko was on the ice at five-on-five. Could his presence in the Panthers lineup harm their otherwise sparkling defensive reputation? Maybe, but Tarasenko will have enough support around him that it shouldn't be a huge problem.

The Panthers, already the favorite to win the Stanley Cup in my book, just added even more pop to an already explosive roster. It's also impressive they were able to do it for the bargain bin cost of a third-round pick and a conditional fourth-round pick. That's a no-brainer for a contender like Florida, even with the questions about Tarasenko's defense. Grade -- A-

Ottawa Senators

The Senators' hands were tied on this deal. They're nowhere near the playoffs, Tarasenko is on an expiring contract, and he had a no-trade clause.

All of that led to a rather underwhelming return for what would otherwise be a highly appealing trade chip. Tarasenko will crack the 20-goal mark with ease this season, and Ottawa probably could have landed at least a second-round pick for him under normal circumstances. Unfortunately for the Sens, these weren't normal circumstances, and that led to them taking a bath on the deal.

A third-round pick and a conditional fourth-round pick aren't exactly much to write home about, although solid NHL players are drafted in those rounds every year. If nothing else, Ottawa will be pulling for the Panthers in the postseason because that fourth-round pick becomes a third-round pick if Florida wins it all this year. Grade -- C-