Best Panthers Player - 1999
Readers' Choice: Pavel Bure
What a dull team the Panthers were, and not only compared to the sheen of their new National Car Rental Center. The anonymous faces circling between the blue lines were less exciting than the vertigo-inducing pitch of the Broward arena's seats. Early in the season, without even name-brand goalie John Vanbiesbrouck between the pipes, the Panthers sank into the league's lowest tier and were a lock to miss the playoffs. Then came January's unbelievable trade, and onboard came the Russian Rocket. One of the best players on the planet, Bure immediately proved his value by scoring six goals in four games. Unfortunately that's about all he did, after a knee injury ended his season almost as soon as it began. Nevertheless Bure's exceptional speed and awareness have single-handedly raised the profile of the entire organization. A long-term contract has him locked in for years to come, not only with the team, but most likely also with this here award.