2011-2012 Preview: Florida Panthers

Posted: September 12, 2011 by JoeyD in Florida Panthers, Season Preview
Tags: , , , , ,

Last season: 30-40-12 72pts, 5th Southeast, Did not make Playoffs

Additions: Jonathan Huberdeau (1st round pick), Tomas Kopecky, Kris Versteeg, Ed Jovanowski, Jose Theodore, Marcel Goc, Nolan Yonkman, Scottie Upshall, Sean Bergenheim, Thomas Fleishmann, Matt Bradley, Angelo Esposito, Keith Seabrook,

Losses: Byron Bitz, Niclas Bergfors, Steve Bernier, Bill Thomas, Sergei Samsonov, Patrick Rissmiller, Tomas Vokoun,  Darcy Hordichuck,

Offense: GM Dale Tallon didn’t only go on a much required spending spree during the free agency period, he also attempted to attack some of the most glaring needs. Porous scoring(only one of 4 teams south of 200 goals) is hoped to be eradicated with additions like Upshall, Fleishmann, Bergenheim, and Versteeg. Even 15 goals per, let alone 20, will provide boost via scoring depth without having to rely on any one player.  Also grit was addressed with the likes of Goc, Bradley, and Kopecky. Edge, sandpaper, and 10 goals each from these additions would be a welcome help as well. Potential steal of the 2010 draft, Quinten Howden may make the team. I look forward to this kid’s development.

Defense: Ed Jovanovski and Brian Campbell expect to provide leadership and safety nets for the likes of Gudbranson who could very well make the top-6 defense. Youngsters like Kulikov and Ellerby should take another step forward this season also. While somewhat unasuming on paper the Panthers should do pretty well on the PK again this season.

Goaltending: After Tomas Vokoun left for the Washington Capitals, the Panthers quickly grabbed Jose Theodore. While may not be the starter that he was in previous years, Theodore and Clemmensen should make for a decent platoon in net. Theodore will get the bulk of the starts but I see Clemmensen getting plenty as well. Jacob Markstrom is more than likely another year away.

Standout Player: David Booth

I sense a rebound year for Booth this season. I can see a production more like the 60 points he had in the 08-09 season and a far improvement from his -31 this past season.  There is more offensive skill on this team than last season and I feel that will translate to a very good showing from Booth on the PP to go with 5  on 5 play. No way the Cats PP will be dead last in the league (13.1%) this season.

Prediction: 4th Southeast, 12th East

Lots of new going on for the Panthers this year. New coach Kevin Dineen has a mish-mash of new players to try to mold a team with. It is difficult to predict if this team can be the proverbial ‘lightning in the bottle’ or something that will have the Benny Hill Theme playing in the background all season. As it often is, the truth will be somewhere in the middle. So I will go with about a modest 10 point improvement in the standings which could get them to 12th in the East. But, for once, there appears to be light at the end of Florida’s tunnel.


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