Today I want to talk about one of the more interesting teams the Florida Panthers. They made some signings that I felt they overpaid but that's what happens when your trying to bring guys to a market that sucks. I really believe that the Panthers built a little something this off-season and can have a nice season next year with good forwards and good defence. Here a list of the players that will most likely come to into play next year.
This is what I expect to be the first line.
David Booth - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg: Not a bad first line, last year Weiss had a strong 49 point season, Booth only had 40 but is still a young big body foward not to mention he got 23 goals. As for Versteeg last year he had 46 points with 21 goals. So a first line of all 40+ point getters and 20+ goal scorers. Should be mentioned that Weiss missed 7 games so he probably would have had around 51 or 52 points.
This is what I expect to be the second line:
Tomas Kopecky - Mike Santorelli - Tomas Fleischman: I really find this line interesting. Last year Kopecky had a pretty nice season 41 points and 15 goals a big body guy who will do some good. Santorelli who really came out of nowhere last year is a gem. I expect big things out of him. This was really his first full NHL season and he managed 41 points and 20 goals. As for Fleischman this guy could be a great player and if he reaches his potential he will probably be on a first line somewhere. Last year he battled a very serious leg blood injury, he is ok now and is apparently ready for action. Last year in just 45 games he had 31 points and 12 goals the year before that in Washington he played only 69 games and got 51 points and 23 goals. And some people might say he played with Backstrom or good guys on Washington, well that's false. He was on their third line, and in Colorado he was on the second for most of his time. WIth these guys and if he can stay healthy I don't see why you shouldn't expext 60 plus points and close to 25 or even 30 goals.
Rostislav Olesz - Scottie Upshall - Sean Bergenheim : another nice line for a third line. This is great. Who wouldn't want this third line you have it all speed size skill. Olesz last year only got 17 points but only played 44 games, with a full season in him, witch he has never done by the way I like this guy for around 35 points, and I think he could get you anywheres from 14 to 17 goals. Now Upshall is a great third line centre, i was kinda hoping Toronto would sign him but i guess Florida got to him. This guy last year played a full season, he got 34 points and 22 goals. This is a great third line centre this guy has speed and isn't afraid to get down and dirty. Captain kinda material. I think Florida will really like him. I actually think he was captain of team canada world juniors at one time. Not sure anyways back to the third piece of this line the size, Sean may only be 5,10 but he is 205 and plays like a big man. Last year he had 29 points and 14 goals, he had a great playoff run though. I think this is a great guy for a third line. All in all this would probably be my favorit line I mean as a third line this is pretty great.
Jack Skille - Shawn Matthias - Michal Repik: Very young and promising fourth line if you ask me. Skille last year played 62 games and got 19 points, and 8 goals, I think with a full season and a year of growing up this guy can become good. Put it this way I don't think he belongs on a fourth line for very long, I could see him getting around 40 points next year if he stays healthy. As for Matthias. last year he played 51 games he got 16 points, I don't see him having as much skill as a guy like Skille but he gets through with hard work and good hockey IQ. I see this guy as a mini Marty Reasoner, young good at centre and will fill his role. As for Repik I have always liked this guy, definitely has skill last year was his second half stint in the NHL and he didn't do too to bad. If given a full season I could see this guy next year getting 25 points plus with maybe 15+ goals. All in all a nice young promising line.
Now you may think ok that's not a bad pack of players, but considering the guys who didn't make this cut that they still have waiting in the wings and you would be very suprised. Guys like Huberdeau and Bjustad who were drafted in the past couple year are NHL close with them being ready in the next 1 to 3 years. They just signed Goc who has to fit into this roster somewhere? Not to mention the young russian Dadonov who is only 22 and last year in 36 games got 17 points and 8 goals. with a full season this guy could maybe be a 50 points guy. The future is starting to look good for Florida.
Now lets take a look at D:
My first D line
Brian Campbell - Ed Jovanovski: This is a very nice line. Although I don't agree with the deals they gave them and Jovo is getting old he is still a top notch guy and will do some good. Last year Campbell got 28 points in only 60 some games this is a guy when healthy and getting a lot of playing time can get your around 50 points. Jovo will add the good defense and nastiness to this line that I think will do very well.
My second D line.
Dmitry Kulikov - Keaton Ellerby: This is pretty much the same as the first line but younger. Kulikov a young Russian D man with good offensive instincts. Last year he got 26 points in 72 season. I think this year this guy could suprise a lot of people i wouldnt be suprised to see him get close to 50 points. And Ellerby a big tough Cnadian kid who knows how to shoot it. Perfect match of this two.
My third line:
Erik Gudbranson - Jason Garrison: Erik the third overall draft pick last year is a nice big D man, who looks to be very promising. I think he will make it this year along with Garrison this is just your average big body d man, with some nice offensive upside. Last year got 18 points, with 5 goals.
Now to the goalies.
First goalie: This doesn't mean he will be the number one but Jose Theadore. This guy still has some good goalie in him, and I see him doing some good but it all depends on how other goalies do. After short stints in Colorado and Minnesota I think if he settles down he can be a good goalie, not to old fom but to decent goalie form.
Second Goalie Jacob Markstrom: I really liked this guy in the WJC and I think he will be a good goalie, I think if he reaches his potential King Henrik like.
All in all, I say there is much to be excited about in Florida as there hockey team really is doing a good job.