Key Offseason Losses: Keith Ballard, Nathan Horton
Key Offseason Additions: Christopher Higgins, Dennis Wideman, Steven Reinprecht
Last Season Ranking: 14th, East
Offense: The Florida Panthers have a talented core in Stephen Weiss and David Booth. Weiss picked up 60 points last season to carry the team in the absence of David Booth’s injury from Philadelphia Flyer’s Mike Richards head shot. The two, if healthy, should each post 50+ points in a competition for the team’s point leader.
Florida lost their 3rd main man Nathan Horton, yet picked up veteran players Christopher Higgins and Steven Reinprecht. Together the two will add some experience, as well as the ability to put the puck in the net.Reinprecht had 16 goals and 22 assists last year with the Phoenix Coyotes while Higgins is coming off of two mediocre seasons, but has the ability to post 40+ points.
Returning players to keep an eye on are Michael Frolik and his balanced play style as well as Cory Stillman and his veteran point production performance.
Defense: The bad news; the team lost Keith Ballard to the Vancouver Canucks. Ballard was a solid defender and a good setup man. The good news; the team has gained an equally talented Dennis Wideman from the Boston Bruins. Wideman had 30 points last season with 11 of those being power play assists, a much needed addition for the Panthers.
Wideman will be lining leading point defender Bryan McCabe. McCabe had 43 points last season with the expectation of doing even better this year.
The downfall though comes after the first pairing, the Panthers have no one really worth mentioning. Perhaps their management team forgot the saying, “Defense wins championships”.
Goaltending: Starter Tomas Vokoun will get the majority of starts while sharing the net with backup Scott Clemmensen. The two together should be able to post some good numbers despite having weak defense. Vokoun has a career .916 save percentage and had a respectable 7 shutouts last season.
Season Outlook: The Florida Panthers had a tough break last season with the injury to star player David Booth. Losing one of your top players always hurts, but this year he is back and healthy. The team added some key role players and some veteran presence that always helps any team. Still though the offensive talent will go to waste with the lack of depth in defense. It will be short of a miracle if the team makes the post season.