Panthers score

Offseason Report: Florida Panthers


From July 16-Aug 16, we’ll be profiling all 30 NHL teams by recapping what they did this offseason and previewing their upcoming campaigns.

2011-12 season

38-26-18 94 points. First in the Southeast Division, third seed in the Eastern Conference. Lost to New Jersey (4-3) in the first round.


Filip Kuba, George Parros, Peter Mueller


Mikael Samuelsson, Jason Garrison, Wojtek Wolski, Krys Barch

2012 Draft

1st Round, 23rd overall — Mike Matheson (USHL Dubuque)

Looking back

It’s been a relatively quiet offseason for GM Dale Tallon, particularly compared to last summer when the Panthers were forced to go on a spending spree to get above the salary cap floor.

Most recently, Tallon was able to get Kris Versteeg under contract through 2015-16 – a good sign for a franchise that’s had trouble retaining talented, young players in the past.

The loss of hard-shooting defenseman Garrison to Vancouver will be a challenge to overcome, but the signing of Kuba should help in that regard. Moreover, 20-year-old Erik Gudbranson has the potential to handle a larger role following his first full season in the NHL.

Looking forward

The big question: Will Tallon acquire goalie Roberto Luongo in a trade with the Canucks?

In late June, it was reported the Panthers were “internally getting ready for the return” of their former netminder.

However, Tallon and Vancouver GM Mike Gillis have yet to reach a deal, with the latter insisting he’s willing to keep Luongo until “close to the season” – and maybe beyond.

Have your say

Vote in our poll and let us know what you think of the Panthers’ 2012-13 outlook in the comments section.

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and, subsequently, the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

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When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado