With the 2020 NHL Draft scheduled for just over a month from now on October 9-10 and an abbreviated (read: frenzied) off-season beginning soon after, the Florida Panthers are still without anyone at the helm. The club fired general manager Dale Tallon back on August 10 after a decade on the job. At the time, the club stated that a search for his replacement had already begun. Yet, it has been all quiet out of Sunrise in the weeks since.
With the clock ticking, there has finally been some development in the story. On Monday, it was reported that at least three people had interviewed for the GM vacancy: St. Louis Blues Assistant GM Bill Armstrong, Montreal Canadiens scout Sean Burke, and NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes. There have been other names associated with the opening as well, but no one else had been confirmed to have been interviewed.
Now you can add one more name to the list. New England hockey insider Mark Divver reports that Boston Bruins Executive Director of Player Personnel John Ferguson Jr. has interviewed for the position. An executive for the Bruins since 2016, including serving as the GM of the AHL’s Providence Bruins, Ferguson is probably best remembered as the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2003-2008. Among many moves, Ferguson was responsible for drafting and trading Tuukka Rask, acquiring veteran Hall of Famers Ron Francis and Brian Leetch, and signing core defensemen Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe to long-term extensions.
While the Bruins likely wouldn’t be thrilled with a top executive heading to a division rival, Ferguson would be a great hire for the Panthers if they choose to go in that direction. Since Ferguson’s hire, the Bruins have been one of the league’s most elite, with the third-most regular season wins and second-most postseason wins over his four seasons. Florida has one playoff win and the 21st most regular season wins in that time span. The Panthers also have not won a playoff series since 1996, the worst drought in the NHL. The second-worst drought? The Maple Leafs, who have not taken a series since Ferguson left the organization. Ferguson has experience and has contributed to several winning NHL clubs, making him a good fit for a Panthers team in need of a turnaround and some prolonged success.