clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

All-Time Florida Panthers Roster Countdown: 78-76

Today, we take a look at center Dave Gagner, goaltender Mike Vernon, and defenseman Brad Ference.

Getty Images

78. Dave Gagner

Gagner was a 5'10" center with the OHL Brantford Alexanders when drafted in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. The native of Chatham, Ontario was selected in the first round with the 12th overall pick by the New York Rangers. He totalled 92 goals and 125 assists in 150 OHL contests.

1984-85 would see Gagner make his professional debut, evenly splitting the season between the Rangers (six goals, six assists) and their AHL affiliate, the New Haven Nighthawks (13 goals, 20 assists), with 38 games for each club. He would become familiar with the routine, spending a total of three seasons going back and forth between the two. He totalled 45 goals and 72 assists in 110 AHL contests and 11 goals with 16 assists in 80 Rangers games. Just prior to the 1987-88 season, the Rangers traded him to the Minnesota North Stars with Jay Caufield for Jari Gronstrand and Paul Boutilier.

In parts of nine seasons with the Minnesota/Dallas Stars franchise, Gagner was a six time 30-goal scorer, and broke the 40-goal barrier on two occasions. He represented the North Stars at the 1991 NHL All-Star game. Overall, he scored 247 goals and 287 assists in 609 games. He ranks sixth in franchise history in goals scored and seventh with 534 total points. The Stars shipped him off to the Toronto Maple Leafs with a sixth round choice (Dmitri Yakushin) for Benoit Hogue and Randy Wood on January 29, 1996.

After closing the season with the Leafs (28 games, seven goals, 15 assists), Gagner was again moved. Toronto traded him to the Calgary Flames for a third round pick (Mike Lankshear). He would light the lamp 27 times with 33 helpers for the Flames, playing in all 82 games of the 1996-97 season.

Gagner signed on with the Panthers as a free agent on July 12, 1997. In just his second game with the team, he scored a hat trick, scoring on each of his three shots on goal. It was just one of 11 occasions that season where he collected more than one point in a game. In 78 games, he totalled a team second best 20 goals on 158 shots, along with a team third best 28 assists. He finished the season with a team worst minus-21 rating.

In 1998-99, Gagner spent the first 36 games of the season with the Panthers. He made three assists in a 7-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on October 30 on his way to a four goal, 10 assist swan song with the Cats. On January 17, Florida traded him to the Vancouver Canucks with Ed Jovanovski, Mike Brown, Kevin Weekes, and a first round pick (Nathan Smith) for Pavel Bure, Bret Hedican, Brad Ference, and a third round pick (Robert Fried). After scoring two goals and 12 assists through 33 games, he would announce his retirement preceding the following season.

All-Time Statline: Two seasons, 114 games, 24 goals, 38 assists, 62 points, minus-28 rating, 94 PIM, 5.2 APS.

77. Mike Vernon

Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Vernon had just posted a 33-17-1 record with the WHL Calgary Wranglers when chosen in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. The 5'9" goaltender was picked up by the Calgary Flames in the third round, 56th overall. In three seasons with the Wranglers, he totalled a 84-49-5 record.

Vernon made his debut with the Flames with two games in the 1982-83 season. In 11 seasons with the Flames, Vernon totalled a then-franchise record 248 wins with 152 losses and 51 ties, including an incredible 37-6-5 record in 1988-89. He then went 16-5 with a 2.26 GAA through the playoffs, helping the Flames to their first ever Stanley Cup. He also appeared in the All-Star game five times as a member of the Flames. The Flames traded him to the Detroit Red Wings just after the 1993-94 season for Steve Chiasson.

Vernon played with the Wings for three seasons, posting a 53-24-14 record and a 2.40 GAA. He would duplicate his Stanley Cups success with the Red Wings in 1997, going 16-4 with a 1.76 GAA and a .927 save percentage. During the following offseason, he was traded to the San Jose Sharks with a fifth round pick for two second round picks, both traded away in subsequent transactions.

In parts of three seasons with San Jose, Vernon collected a franchise fifth most 52 wins, with 49 losses and 19 ties/overtime losses, with a .904 save percentage and a 2.39 GAA. The Sharks traded him to the Panthers December 30, 1999 with a third round pick (Sean O'Connor) for Radek Dvorak.

Vernon spent half a season as the Panthers number one goaltender. He started 34 matches and accrued an 18-13-2 record. On February 16, Vernon shutout the New York Rangers, 3-0 on 25 shots. He was Florida's only netminder to face action in the Stanley Cup Playoffs that season, going 0-4 while allowing 12 goals on 136 shots. After the season, he was left unprotected in the 2000 NHL Expanision Draft, getting selected by the Minnesota Wild. He was immediately traded back to the Flames for an eighth round pick and the right to negotiate with Dan Cavanaugh.

In his final two NHL seasons, Vernon struggled to a 14-32-6 record. He stands at number two on Calgary's all-time leaderboard with 262 wins and third with 13 shutouts. He officially retired just prior to the 2002-03 season.

All-Time Statline: One season, 34 games, 2,019 minutes, 18-13-2 record, one shutout, 1,020 shots faced, 937 saves, 83 goals allowed, .919 save percentage, 2.47 GAA, 5.2 APS.

76. Brad Ference

Ference stood 6'3" when chosen by the Vancouver Canucks with the 10th overall pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. The defenseman from Calgary, Alberta was playing for the WHL Spokane Chiefs at the time, and through four total seasons scored 24 goals with 89 assists and 796 penalty minutes through 177 WHL games, (the last 20 with the Tri-City Americans).

In 1999-00, Ference made his professional debut, spending 58 games with the Louisville Panthers in the AHL (two goals, seven assists, 231 PIM). He also played in 13 NHL games with the Panthers, going scoreless on 10 shots, making two assists, and spending 46 minutes in the box in 13:40 ATOI.

Brad Ference vs Aaron Gavey (via sabrz)

2000-01 would see Ference again spend most of his season in Louisville (52 games, three goals, 21 assists, minus-22 rating, 200 PIM), joining the NHL version of the Panthers for 14 games, averaging 13:03 per game over several callups to Florida. He went scoreless on five shots, made one assist and racked up a minus-10 rating.

Ference joined Florida on a more permanent basis for the 2001-02 season, playing in 80 NHL contests for the Panthers. He scored two goals on 65 shots and made a career high 15 assists while averaging 19:44 TOI. He scored his first career goal on December 19 in a 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals. He also posted a minus-13 rating and 254 minutes in the penalty box.

Ference spent 60 games with the Panthers to start the 2002-03 season, scoring twice on 41 shots and making six assists. He posted a plus-2 rating and 118 PIM. The Panthers traded him to the Phoenix Coyotes on March 8 for Darcy Hordichuk and a second round pick (later traded to Tampa Bay).

Ference played 78 games with Phoenix, collecting six assists and a minus-24 rating with 131 penalty minutes. He played five games with the Calgary Flames in 2006-07, bringing his NHL career to a close.

All-Time Statline: Four seasons, 167 games, four goals, 24 assists, 28 points, minus-19 rating, 432 PIM, 5.3 APS.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.