We’re going to take a look at each NHL team, breaking down every new addition and subtraction, as well as promising prospects.
Today, we take a look at the Florida Panthers.
By: Meesh Shanmugam (@HockeyMeesh)
2013 Season: 15-27-6, 36 pts (5th in Southeast Division, 15th in Eastern Conference)
Free Agents Signed:
C Scott Gomez from San Jose
D Matt Gilroy from NY Rangers
C Jonathan Matsumoto from San Jose
RW Jesse Winchester
RW Joey Crabb from Washington
D Mike Mottau from Toronto
RW Steven Pinizzotto from Vancouver
Free Agents Lost:
C Zach Hamill to Vancouver
D Tyson Strachan to Washington
D Nolan Yonkman to Anaheim
RW Jack Skille to Columbus
C Stephen Weiss to Detroit
RW Peter Mueller to Europe
G Jose Theodore (unsigned)
RW George Parros to Montreal for LW Philippe Lefebvre and a 7th round pick
C Corban Knight to Calgary for a 4th round pick
D T.J. Brennan to Nashville for RW Bobby Butler
C Jonathan Huberdeau
C Aleksander Barkov
C Drew Shore
C Nick Bjugstad
D Alex Petrovic
D Colby Robak
G Jakob Markstrom
Looking back at the Florida Panthers of 2013…well, no one wants to do that. Coming off of a season which saw a return to the playoffs as the Southeast Division winners in 2011-2012, the Panthers had much higher expectations than they could ever fulfill in 2013. Not only did they fail to meet expectations, but they failed in every way, shape, and form.
The Panthers finished dead last in the NHL with a 15-27-6 record (36 pts) that was due to a combination of injuries, slumping veterans, and younger players who weren’t quite ready yet. They finished 2nd to last in goals scored, last in goals against, and last in penalty killing. Statistically, their best goalie was Jacob Markstrom, who had a 3.22 GAA and a .901 Save %. You can just imagine how bad Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen were if that was the high mark for Florida’s goalies.
With a nightmare of a lockout-shortened season over, Florida went into the offseason and…didn’t do too much. With the 2nd pick in the draft, they took a very strong two-way center in Aleksander Barkov. Barkov is expected to make the team this year and help out franchise star Jonathan Huberdeau, who won the Calder Trophy as last year’s rookie of the year.
That is pretty much the plan for the Florida Panthers right now. The franchise hopes that their younger players can mature and progress in a timely fashion to get them back into the playoffs. There is a PLETHORA of promising young talent to watch in the upcoming season. Besides Huberdeau and Barkov, 21-year old Erik Gudbranson will continue to make his assent towards being a top defenseman. Additionally, 6’6” Jacob Markstrom hopes to get consistent and significant playing time in net as he looks to finally earn a job as a starting goalie with Florida. It feels like we’ve heard about Markstrom for a decade at this point, but the 23-year old is still potentially a few years away from hitting his prime.
Beyond those four big names, the Panthers will feature more youth with centers Drew Shore and Nick Bjugstad (though, Bjugstad was diagnosed with a concussion today) and possibly defensemen Alex Petrovic and/or Colby Robak. In case you want more names that you may recognize, let’s go further into the pipeline to talk about World Juniors stars Rocco Grimaldi and Vince Trocheck.
The Panthers have a lot of up-and-coming NHL talent, but there is a big question of when they will all arrive and if they will get mired in the losing franchise that Florida has been. This season will likely be a tough one for the Panthers as they continue to experience growing pains. Those 2,000 mile trips up and down the Eastern time zone probably won’t help either in the new Atlantic Division.
Good luck Florida. If things go well, throw rats. If things go poorly…well, rats.