Montour was acquired by the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a 2021 3rd-round draft pick. In 11 games with his new team, Montour has chalked up two goals and two assists for four points to accompany a solid +6 rating so far.
Montour managed five goals and nine assists in 38 appearances with the Sabres and his rating sat at a measly -13 in a season where Buffalo has been historically terrible. Montour was able to escape and has made himself at home on a Florida squad that is poised for a deep playoff run this year.
In his brief time with the Panthers, Montour’s CF% sits at a healthy 59.5% and his PDO is currently at 103.5, a tenth of a point shy of what he accrued last season with the Sabres at 103.6.
Montour has also seen a slight raise in his ice time since the trade as he is skating 20:40 a game for Florida versus 20:32 in Buffalo. Montour’s offensive zone start percentage has risen a bit as well, jumping from 50.4% with the Sabres to an even 54% with the Panthers, giving him more chances to show off his offensive skill and sheltering him a bit defensively to take some of the workload off.
Florida has a surplus of good defensemen on both sides of the puck to complement Montour. That includes MacKenzie Weegar, Keith Yandle, and Markus Nutivaara along with Aaron Ekblad, though the former first overall pick in 2014 is out for the year with a left leg fracture.
Ekblad’s injury, along with a bevy of others on the Florida blueline, have caused the Panthers to use a revolving door of defensemen this season, which is partially what prompted Montour’s trade there.
Montour is just one of 13 defenders the Panthers have iced this season. The list includes Weegar, Yandle, Ekblad, Nutivaara, Radko Gudas, Gustav Forsling, Anton Stralman, Brady Keeper, Noah Juulsen, Matt Kiersted, Riley Stillman and Kevin Connauton. Yet somehow they’re in a fight for the top spot in the Central Division and have already punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Montour has solidified himself among the group as one of the premier defensemen on the team so far.
Montour also saw some penalty kill time in Buffalo and since he was brought in he has tried to help uplift a struggling Panthers PK unit that is only running at a 78.5% mark, bad enough for 22nd in the NHL.
Montour’s name has popped up in rumors in the past as a solid right-handed defender who can provide some offense while maintaining a solid defensive presence, and the Flyers should be in on him come the beginning of free agency.
There’s five defensemen the Philadelphia Flyers should have their sights set on this coming offseason, if not already. Hamilton is obviously the top prize in free agency among the blueliners, but some of the other defenders out there are fine consolation options that should still be helpful to the Flyers in their quest to improve the roster.