Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Florida Panthers.
After making the playoffs and winning the Southeast Division two years ago, things went back to “normal” last year for the Panthers. They were last in the division, Eastern Conference, and the league. Things went so poorly they didn’t even land the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
Now that they’ve put that behind them, it appears they’ve got another potentially bumpy season ahead with a very young team. GM Dale Tallon will eventually look like a smart guy when their prospects finally make it to the show, but for now everyone’s going to have some growing pains.
It all started at the NHL Draft for the Panthers as they selected Aleksander Barkov with the second overall pick giving them a potential No. 1 center to play with Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau. When free agency started, it was more about who wasn’t coming back.
Gone are center Stephen Weiss, winger Peter Mueller and goalie Jose Theodore. They also bought out defenseman Filip Kuba.
Tallon replaced Weiss with Barkov, mainly, but also just brought in Scott Gomez on a one-year deal to try and solidify things up the middle. Forwards Joey Crabb and Bobby Butler and defenseman Matt Gilroy rounded out their haul and that’s not overly inspiring.
Instead, Florida will hope for better luck with injuries so they can get more from Tomas Fleischmann, Sean Bergenheim, and Kris Versteeg. They’ll also be hoping goalie Jacob Markstrom can shake off a tough rookie year on a bad team and evolve into the No. 1 goalie they believe he can be.