2011-12 NHL Season Preview: Florida Panthers

Key Offseason Additions: Scottie Upshall, Tomas Kopecky, Tomas Fleishmann, Kris Versteeg, Sean Bergenheim, Brian Campbell, Ed Jovanovski, Jose Theodore

Key Offseason Losses: Dennis Wideman, Marty Reasoner, Michael Frolik, Tomas Vokoun

Last Season Ranking: 15th in East

Stephen Weiss and David Booth are the only 2 from last year's top 6 forwards. Might need an ice breaker.
Stephen Weiss and David Booth are the only 2 from last year's top 6 forwards. Might need an ice breaker.

Offense: The Florida Panthers have made a complete overhaul of their team replacing four of their top six forwards. Sometimes too much change is a bad thing, but with the team missing the playoffs year after year, change is just what the doctor ordered.

Scottie Upshall has had a respectable 30 point per season career, but for many, believe he is capable of doing a lot more. The difficulty for Upshall is staying healthy which has seen him play all but one full season over his career. A fast, strong skater, it will be nice to see if he pairs up with Stephen Weiss and David Booth. If so, his fantasy stock could rise as a sleeper pick.

Florida’s additions were nothing of any great superstars, but of all talented players that can chip in. Going with the thought that the sum is greater than the parts, the team has added depth with Tomas Kopecky, Tomas Flesichmann and Kris Versteeg. Together, the three combined for 48 goals, 71 assists to total 119 points. This should greatly improve the Panthers top two lines if the new players can gel with one another.

Defense: Like the offense, the Panthers have tweaked their top two defensive pairings.

Puck moving defenseman Brian Campbell is capable of putting up 50 points if he can stay healthy. The forecast may not look so good as he has had shortened seasons for the past two years.

Veteran Ed Jovanoski has been added and will balance the team out with some grit and hard work. He is a player you at to play against but would love to have on your team. A downside he is getting older, but the positive, he plays younger than what he is.

The Panthers still have some talented players that will pair with either of the two previous mentioned. Dmitry Kulikov is coming into his third season as a professional and looks to better his last year’s stats of 6 goals and 20 assists. Similarly, Keaton Ellerby is also coming into his third season as a professional and had 2 goals and 10 assists last year. Both young players will help ease the burden of old age on the added veteran defenseman.

Goaltending: The Panthers have always had a good goalie, but never a team in front of him. Tomas Vokoun has headed to the Washington Capitals as the Panthers have picked up Jose Theodore to take the number one spot. Theodore had some great seasons in Washington, notching 62 wins in 104 games played over two seasons. Although he is the same age as Vokoun, Theodore looks to be more acrobatic and should add greater value to the team.

HWB Playoff Prediction: Not playoff bound. Oh how we miss you Florida, please return sometime soon to the playoffs with your rubber rats.

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