The Florida Panthers made a somewhat surprising move a few days ago when they moved defenseman T.J. Brennan to the Nashville Predators in exchange for forward Bobby Butler. It’s a puzzling move for a team that could probably use more defense than offense, but it’s still worth looking at how Butler fits in with the team.
Like Brennan, Butler is a restricted free agent, meaning the Panthers still have a player to worry about signing. Not that Butler will be any sort of concern over an offer sheet if the Cats send him a qualifying offer. This will be a deal that will get done at a relatively low price.
Butler’s production hasn’t been particularly high with any of the three clubs he’s been with in his time in the league. He posted nine points in 20 games, including three goals, with the Predators, who acquired him during the 2013 season. Two of his six assists came on the power play.
His best season came back in 2010-2011, when he finished the year with 21 points in 36 games, including a career mark with 10 goals. He hasn’t been able to replicate that type of success in being moved twice in two seasons prior to the trade to Florida, nor has he been able to keep out of the minors on a regular basis.
Butler’s upside has always made him an intriguing player, but he hasn’t been able to put it together. He has pretty good speed and knows how to get the puck to the net, although he does lack size. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s able to make an impact with the Panthers in a way that he hasn’t been able to with clubs before.
Whether or not it’ll be worth trading away a defenseman with the upside of T.J. Brennan is something that we’ll just have to wait and see in order to find out.