James O'Brien

Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers ’15-16 Outlook

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Jaromir Jagr is extremely important to the Florida Panthers, and not just because he found such great chemistry with Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov.

One can imagine a scenario where the Panthers’ bounty of youngsters make a huge leap and help Florida burst onto the scene in its market.

Still, many would probably agree that the Panthers are more likely to make incremental improvements in 2015-16, which pivots back to Jagr: if this team wants any butts in seats, their veterans may be the ones to draw them. Even if it’s really about the young guns.

Discuss Florida’s attendance issues here.

Barring that meteoric rise, it will take time for crucial casual fans to really get acquainted with the likes of Nick Bjugstad, Huberdeau, Barkov and even Aaron Ekblad.

In the meantime, the Panthers can trumpet Jagr’s continued gallop through the record books to entice the less-hardcore among their potential base. Just look at how much he could climb if the 43-year-old continues to defy the aging process:

All-time goals list:

3. Brett Hull – 741 goals
4. Marcel Dionne – 731
5. Jagr – 722

All-time points:

2. Mark Messier: 1,887 points
3. Gordie Howe: 1,850
4. Jagr: 1,802

Remarkable stuff, right?

Roberto Luongo may be a subtle draw, too, although goalies probably don’t bring in audiences quite like a seemingly ageless, legendary forward might.

Again, the truth is that Jagr would ideally serve as a supporting cast member on the ice. The Panthers will probably just market him as if he’s still the marquee star – at least until the team is clearly in contention – and who would blame them?

EA Sports takes Patrick Kane off of NHL 16’s cover

kanetoewscover
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EA Sports announced that Patrick Kane will not appear on the cover of their upcoming video game NHL 16.

Here’s the statement they released on Wednesday:

If that tweet is giving you trouble, here’s the text of the release:

“In light of the ongoing investigation involving Patrick Kane, he will no longer be a spokesperson for the launch of EA Sports NHL 16.

He will not appears on the cover nor participate in other promotional activities.”

The original plan called for Kane to be on the cover of the title with Jonathan Toews. It would have been a callback to the past, as Kane was the cover star for NHL 10 while Toews took over that role for NHL 11.

Instead, it appears that Toews will be alone for NHL 16:

ESPN’s Katie Strang reports that Kane, 26, may lose other sponsors depending upon how the ongoing rape investigation turns out.

Looking to make the leap: Lawson Crouse

2015 NHL Draft - Portraits
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Hey, when you’re huge, you don’t need to make as much of a leap.

Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon didn’t do the usual hemming and hawing you’d expect when talking up Lawson Crouse, the 11th overall pick of the 2015 NHL Draft. Instead, he threw down the gauntlet after signing the sizable young prospect to an entry-level contract in July.

“He was one of our best players in development camp and we are confident he can make an immediate impact on our roster, playing on one of our top lines,” Tallon said via a Panthers release.

It’s not just Tallon pumping him up, either, as head coach Gerard Galland said that Crouse “will be given every opportunity to earn a top-six forward position on our roster during training camp.”

That’s quite the accelerated outlook for a towering 18-year-old (listed at 6-foot-4, 215 lbs) whose offense seemingly came up short at times; Crouse managed just 51 points in 56 games at the OHL level in 2014-15.

Such modest production would leave the impression that the Panthers might be wise to allow Crouse to marinate at the junior level for at least a little while, yet it sounds like the organization thinks he’s on the right track. Florida might be growing a touch impatient with the slow-and-steady approach, and one can also imagine that they see an “NHL body” in Crouse.

Of course, it’s not as if the Panthers are committed to a decision yet. They can change their mind during training camp or even through a few regular season contests and decide to let him develop at a slower pace with no harm done.

All disclaimers aside, it sounds like he’ll get a real chance to make the roster right out of the draft.

Want to know more about Crouse? Check out this profile.

It’s Florida Panthers day at PHT

Roberto Luongo
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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Florida Panthers.

For the third season in a row, the Florida Panthers fell short of the playoffs.

This time around, there were signs of moderate progress, as they finished 10th overall in the East with a 38-28-15 record (91 points). Final wild card team Pittsburgh finished seven points ahead of them, so there’s still work to do.

For especially jaded fans, this may sound like a broken record, yet the team’s extreme mix of potential and experience could make for intriguing results.

At one end, you have veteran star power with Jaromir Jagr and Roberto Luongo. They even have Brian Campbell for one more year, as his oft-cited $7.14 million cap hit will expire after 2015-16.

On the other end, a bountiful crop of young players earned from all these years of underwhelming play.

Aaron Ekblad won the 2015 Calder Trophy, while this year’s first-rounder Lawson Crouse may also make an immediate impact. Nick Bjugstad, Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau are all showing varying degrees of promise. Bjugstad’s the oldest of these young players, and he’s just 23.

Expectations should climb in Gerard Gallant’s second season as head coach, at least from those who are paying attention to a team that frequently slips under the radar.

Off-season recap

For the most part, the Panthers stayed idle in free agency, either letting veterans walk (Tomas Kopecky) or shoving them out the door (Brad Boyes). Perhaps re-signing Jagr constitutes their “big splash,” then?

They did make one eyebrow-raising move in adding Marc Savard’s contract in a deal that sent Jimmy Hayes to the Boston Bruins for Reilly Smith.

Florida seems content with letting its young players continue to grow alongside Jagr and Luongo.

PHT Morning Skate: Franzen gifts Nyquist with Babcock blanket of horror

franzentonyquist
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Hey, this is pretty cool: Jenny Scrivens looks like she’ll join the NWHL’s New York Riveters, so consider Jenny and Ben Scrivens hockey’s power goaltending couple:

More than a few people clamor for the Anaheim Ducks to go back to their Mighty jerseys, but if these rumored duds are true, expect some really bad “Orange you glad …” jokes. (Puck Daddy)

Phil Kessel in a Pittsburgh Penguins sweater is weird, but it becomes flat-out fun combined with shorts.

Does Tyler Seguin represent a “new breed” of NHL players? Maybe, but he really just wants to emulate other sports stars like Lebron James. (Sportsnet)

Talk about direct nightmare fuel: Johan Franzen presented Gustav Nyquist with this custom bedspread on Instagram:

source:

The caption is even better, though.

Hey Nyquist, I know you been sad ever since your dad signed for Toronto so I had these custom bed sheets made for u so u always can be close to him #detroit #detroitredwings #babcock #nyquist #separationanxiety #nhl

Honestly, if you need to kill some time, just pour over the Instagram account of “The Mule.”

Amazingly, that’s not the most jarring Red Wings-related image featured in this Morning Skate, at least if you follow this link to what they might wear at their next outdoor game. Maybe they won’t actually look like this? /Holds out hope for humanity (Sports Logos)