Top 10 Best Florida Panthers Players of All Time
The Florida Panthers are one of the newer franchises in the NHL, having been established in 1993. Due to being so young, Florida doesn’t have the same history as some of the more established teams. However, great players have come through the organization. Read below to learn about the greatest Panthers players of all time.
Who Are the Best Florida Panthers Hockey Players of All Time?
- Roberto Luongo
- Aleksander Barkov
- Jonathan Huberdeau
- Pavel Bure
- John Vanbiesbrouck
- Matthew Tkachuk
- Aaron Ekblad
- Olli Jokinen
- Robert Svehla
- Scott Mellanby
1. Roberto Luongo
- Inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame in 2022
- Led NHL in saves in 2004 and 2006
- Most saves in Florida Panthers history (16,086)
The only player number that’s been retired by the Florida Panthers is Roberto Luongo’s number one jersey. The goaltender spent 11 of his 20 seasons with the Panthers, backstopping them to the franchises second-ever division title in 2016. That season, Luongo posted a .922 save percentage en route to a fourth-place finish in the Vezina Trophy voting.
Overall, Luongo had a career .919 save percentage when playing for Florida, which ranks second among Panthers netminders who’ve made at least 2,500 saves. Roberto’s 572 games played with Florida are more than double any other Panthers goalie, and he’s the club’s all-time leader in wins (230) and shutouts (38). Luongo helped establish the Panthers’ credibility as he gave them legitimate Hall of Fame production, and he’s a main-stay in the South Florida community after delivering a speech to the Florida crowd after the Parkland shooting in 2018.
2. Aleksander Barkov
- 2020-21 Selke Trophy winner
- 2018-19 Lady Byng Trophy winner
- Most points in Florida Panthers history
In 2012-13, the Florida Panthers were the worst team in the NHL, but weren’t lucky enough to win the draft lottery. Still, Florida got the second overall pick and used it on a center from Tampere, Finland, named Aleksander Barkov. Many people criticized the pick saying Florida should’ve taken Seth Jones or Jonathan Drouin. However, Barkov has proven the organization correct.
Prior to the 2021-22 season, the center inked an eight-year, $80 million deal, the largest contract in Panthers history. The Panthers current captain is just 27 years old, but is already the franchise’s all-time leader in goals and points. He also has the highest career plus/minus of every Florida player, and is eight regular season games played away from becoming the longest tenured Panther. Florida had made the playoffs four times in 19 seasons before Barkov. Since then, the Panthers have qualified for the postseason five times in his ten years.
3. Jonathan Huberdeau
- 2012-13 Calder Trophy winner
- Set Panthers single-season points record (115) in 2021-22
- Averaged 0.91 points-per-game with Florida
Jonathan Huberdeau was the third overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He made is debut for the 2012-13 season opener and scored a goal on his first-ever NHL shot. The Canadian also added in two assists for a three-point start to his career. That was only a sign of things to come. In a lockout-shortened season, Huberdeau’s 31 points tied Edmonton’s Nail Yakupov for most points by a rookie that year en route to being the Panthers’ first-ever Calder Trophy winner.
Huberdeau struggled during his sophomore season, but blossomed in 2015 and never looked back. The winger played well over a point-per-game pace from 2018-2022 and became the first Panther to reach the 100 point plateau in 2021-22. Following that season, Huberdeau was a main part of a blockbuster trade, as he was sent to the Calgary Flames in exchange for Matthew Tkachuk, who also had over 100 points that year.
4. Pavel Bure
- 2000 and 2001 Rocket Richard Trophy winner
- Holds Florida Panthers single season goals record (59)
- Led the Panthers to the playoffs in 2000
Pavel Bure may be the best pure talent to ever play for the Florida Panthers, as he played four seasons with the club. The “Russian Rocket” is currently the only Panther to ever record 50-plus goals in a season, scoring 58 and 59 in back-to-back years. In 2000, Bure finished third in Hart Trophy voting and led Florida back to the playoffs after a three-year drought. Unfortunately, the Panthers couldn’t surround their superstar with enough talent while he was with the club. Florida was swept out of the 2000 postseason by the New Jersey Devils despite four points by Bure.
Then, the Panthers crumbled in 2001 down to 12th in the Eastern Conference with just 66 points even though Bure set a single season Panthers record with 59 goals. In 2002, Bure had 49 points in 56 games, but was shipped at the trade deadline to the New York Rangers. Bure is the only Florida Panther to average over a point-per-game for the team.
5. John Vanbiesbrouck
- Finished second in Vezina Trophy voting in 1993-94
- Career .912 save percentage with the Florida Panthers
- Led Panthers to Stanley Cup Finals in 1995-96
The Florida Panthers have appeared in one Stanley Cup Final in franchise history, and it was backstopped by John Vanbiesbrouck. The goalie was already a Vezina Trophy winner in 1985-86 when he was selected as the first pick in the 1993 NHL Expansion Draft by the Panthers. That season, Florida finished with a .494 points-percentage - currently the second highest by a first-year expansion team. Vanbiesbrouck was voted third in Hart Trophy voting and nearly won the Vezina Trophy.
The Panthers then narrowly missed the playoffs the following season, but qualified in 1996 where they went on a Cinderella run all the way to the Stanley Cup. Vanbiesbrouck led the entire playoffs in shots faced, saves made, and he did it with a .932 save percentage and a 2.25 goals-against-average. However, the Panthers run ended in a dud as they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche.
6. Matthew Tkachuk
- One of three Florida Panthers to record 40-plus goals in one season (2022-23)
- Second Panthers player to have 100-plus points in one season (2022-23)
- 2022-23 All-Star selection
After winning the President’s Trophy in 2021-22, the Florida Panthers made a bold move trading franchise winger Jonathan Huberdeau, defenseman Mackenzie Weegar, and a first round pick for Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk. The winger had over 100 points with Calgary, making it the second-ever NHL trade involving two players to reach that threshold the previous season. In addition, Tkachuk inked an eight-year, $76 million deal with the Panthers.
In his first year, he fit in immediately with Florida registering a team-high 109 points in 2022-23, leading his team back to the playoffs for the fourth-straight season, despite being nine points out in early January. Tkachuk at 25 years old figures to have plenty of seasons left before his career ends, meaning he has plenty of time to leave an even bigger imprint on the organization.
7. Aaron Ekblad
- 2014-15 Calder Trophy winner
- Finished 6th in Norris Trophy voting in 2021-22
- Hold Florida Panthers career points mark for a defenseman
A year after taking their franchise center in Aleksander Barkov, the Florida Panthers selected their cornerstone defenseman Aaron Ekblad first overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Ekblad was an immediate success playing alongside veteran defenseman Brian Campbell, as he joined Jonathan Huberdeau as being the only Calder Trophy winners in Panthers history.
The two-time All-Star has spent all nine seasons of his career in Florida, helping the team reach the playoffs five times. He’s had his ups-and-downs too. Ekblad has reached at least ten goals in a season in eight of his nine years. However, the number-one pick has missed at least ten games in four years. He’s also been on the ice for the most goals against in Panthers history. Still, Ekblad is the all-time points leader for a defenseman in Florida history and still has two more seasons left on his contract.
8. Olli Jokinen
- Third on the Florida Panthers all-time goals list (188)
- Team captain from 2003-08
- Four 30-plus goal seasons with the Panthers
Similar to Pavel Bure, the Florida Panthers could never surround their talented forward with enough talent to reach any team success. However, Jokinen himself was the face of the franchise in the mid 2000s despite getting off to a rocky start with the Panthers. The center was named team captain prior to the 2003-04 season, and he held that distinction up until being dealt to the Phoenix Coyotes right before the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
Jokinen left Florida as the franchises all-time leading scorer and had led the Panthers in scoring in each of the past five years before he was traded. Jokinen also held the club record for game-winning goals (36), but has since been passed by Aleksander Barkov. He wasn’t a perfect player, as his 200-foot game was put in question often, but he provided the club a bonafide star during a stretch in which Florida missed the playoffs in 12 straight years.
9. Robert Svehla
- Second all-time in Florida Panthers defenseman points (290)
- Second all-time in Florida Panthers defenseman goals (61)
- Two top-15 Norris Trophy voting finishes (1996-97, 1999-2000)
Another key-cog of the Florida Panthers run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1995-96 is Robert Svehla. At his peak, Svehla was a rock-solid two-way defenseman. The defenseman hit the 40-point mark in four of his eight seasons with the Panthers. He also set a then franchise record with 57 points by a defenseman in 1996 - a mark that stood until the 2018-19 season.
During the playoffs, Svehla only recorded six points in 22 games, but his play in the defensive end helped Florida beat three of the five highest scoring offenses in the NHL that season. Overall, Svehla was the franchises first true top-pairing defenseman, and under his prowess the Panthers reached the playoffs again in 1996-97 and in 1999-2000.
10. Scott Mellanby
- Recorded two 30-plus goal seasons with the Florida Panthers
- Leading point-scorer on the 1995-96 Panthers
- Team captain from 1997-2001
The Florida Panthers selected eight-year veteran Scott Mellanby during the 1993 NHL Expansion Draft. In the inaugural season, Mellanby led the Panthers with 30 goals and 60 points, but he’s more known for creating the “Rat-Trick”. Before the 1995-96 home opener, Mellanby killed a rat in the locker room with his stick and then scored two goals in a 4-3 victory. John Vanbiesbrouck called it the “Rat-Trick” and thus the legend was born. After every goal, Panthers fans would throw toy rats on the ice in celebration.
Nowadays, fans are allowed to throw the rats only at the end of games, usually when the Panthers win. In 1996, Mellanby had a career high 70 points in the regular season. He also helped Florida reach the playoffs in 1996-97 and in 1999-2000.
- Brian Campbell
- Carter Verhaeghe
- Gord Murphy
- Jay Bouwmeester
- Keith Yandle
- Mackenzie Weegar
- Nathan Horton
- Stephen Weiss
- Tomas Vokoun
- Vincent Trocheck
Who is the best Florida Panthers goalie of all time?
The best Florida Panthers goalie of all time is Roberto Luongo. The netminder is the only player to play the majority of his career with the Panthers and be in the Hockey Hall of Fame. In his 11 seasons with Florida, Luongo finished top-10 in Vezina Trophy voting four times.
Who is the best Florida Panthers forward of all time?
The best Florida Panthers forward of all time is Aleksander Barkov. The center is still currently playing for Florida and is already the franchises all time leader in points. Barkov’s contract with the Panthers ends after the 2029-30 season.
Who is the best Florida Panthers defensemen of all time?
The best Florida Panthers defenseman of all time is also a current player, Aaron Ekblad. The Canadian was the number-one pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and is Florida’s franchise leader in defensive scoring.