Regular Season: One season removed from winning the Southeast Division for the first time, the Panthers struggled to score goals, and finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference (and the league). The lone bright spot on an otherwise dismal season was the Calder Trophy performance by Jonathan Huberdeau for the NHL’s rookie of the year.
Playoffs: Florida missed the playoffs by an astounding 19 points, which is pretty remarkable for a 48 game season.
Ready To Make The Jump: F Aleksander Barkov
BIG 3 FACTORS
1. Is Barkov Ready: The Panthers passed on both Seth Jones and Jonathan Drouin to take the Finnish forward who they hope is NHL ready. They need him to have an offensive presence to provide some semblance of a dangerous forward unit.
2. Markstrom Time: The Panthers have been patient with their top goaltending prospect Jacob Markstrom. That patience is about to run out, and it is time for the Swede to produce some results. Probably is the best option for #1 goalie.
3. Retreads: The Panthers brought in a bunch of outcasts in Gomez, Butler and Gilroy. They still are shallow up front and will have trouble to score goals until more of their prospect develop.
PROGNOSIS: They aren’t in the Southleast any more, and the new-look Atlantic Division will prove to be a whole new animal for the Panthers, with 5 of the 8 teams in the division coming off playoff appearances. The Panthers win their division two seasons ago after taking on a lot of salary. Those moves didn’t last, and they fell back to earth. That isn’t going to change
PREDICTION: The Panthers might improve, but nowhere near enough to make noise in their new division. 8th place in the Atlantic Division.
We will be previewing every NHL team ahead of Training Camp which for most teams will begin on Sept 11th. As a twist, we will be unveiling our teams in reverse order to how I predict they will finish in the standings. Here is the schedule (you can click on a team name to see the preview for that team):
|1||Sept 9||Sept 8||Sept 7||Sept 6|
|2||Sept 5||Sept 4||Sept 3||Sept 2|
|3||Sept 1||Aug 31||Aug 30||Aug 29|
|4||Aug 28||Aug 27||Aug 26||Aug 25|
|5||Aug 24||Aug 23||Aug 22||Aug 21|
|6||Aug 20||Aug 19||Aug 18||Aug 17|
|7||Aug 16||Aug 15||Aug 14||Aug 13|
Check back tomorrow to see who will be the basement dweller in the Pacific Division!