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Florida Panthers Evan Rodrigues: Not a Bad Signing

The forward is helping the Panthers take command of the Stanley Cup Final with his scoring touch

TUNDRA NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: MAYER FINK
June 11 2024
Evan Rodrigues after finding the back of the net in Game Two. SOURCE: FLORIDA PANTHERS (TWITTER/X)

Three goals in two games are impressive when the stage is the biggest. That’s where Evan Rodrigues is at to start the Stanley Cup Final. He found the back of the net once in Game One and twice in Game Two and it’s given the Florida Panthers an edge early in this series.

Evan Rodrigues is off to a start that parallels a lot of greats before him. SOURCE: NHL PUBLIC RELATIONS (TWITTER/X)

The crazy thing about Rodrigues is that any team could have signed him this offseason. Yet only one team did with a bargain price of $3 Million per year for four years. It was the Panthers and fast-forward to the Final and this team is only two wins away from winning it all with Rodrigues leading the way.

Rodrigues Was a Journeyman Before Arriving in Florida

Before signing the four-year deal with the Panthers, Rodrigues bounced around. Here’s a basic rundown of his career. 

      After making his NHL debut in 2016, he spent his first five seasons with the Buffalo Sabres.

      He then played three seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

      Then there was a one-year stint with the Colorado Avalanche.

      Now, he has just completed his first season with the Panthers.

Considering he’s a consistent depth scorer with 81 goals and 126 assists in 465 career regular season games, it’s amazing he never found a long-term home until recently. Teams can always use depth in their forward unit yet the Penguins and Avalanche notably let him walk. 

This offseason, any team could have taken the leap and the Panthers took the swing. It’s paid off.

Rodrigues Has a Strong Season

Rodrigues scored 12 goals this season but he made his mark as a passer. His 27 assists were fifth-most among forwards and it helped turn the Panthers offense into one of the best in the league, averaging 3.23 goals per game.  

Then came the playoffs where even as the games slowed down and became low-scoring, he continued to produce. Rodrigues scored three goals and five assists through the first three rounds. It doesn’t pop off the stat sheet but it’s made a difference, especially in one-goal games, which the Panthers have played 10 of.  

And he’s just getting started.

A Stanley Cup Final to Remember

Rodrigues scored the second goal in the Panthers' 3-0 Game victory, a goal that came on a great centering pass from Sam Bennett. Then he scored twice in Game Two including one goal where he came flying into the offensive zone to tip the puck past the Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner. 

Rodrigues is off to a strong start but it’s worth noting that his goals aren’t oddities. He’s finding open looks near the net and finishing scoring chances, making him a player the Panthers can turn to for goals in this series.  

He’s not going to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, even if he takes over this series with six or more goals (which would be otherworldly). However, offense like this goes a long way and it’s helping the Panthers control this series with a comfortable 2-0 series lead.

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