2014-2015 NHL Season Preview: Florida Panthers

Roberto Luongo Florida Panthers

After a very disappointing season and 29th place finish, the Florida Panthers used to the offseason to regroup and acquire veteran free agents, as well as a number one draft pick. This season the Panthers will also be led by a new head coach, Gerard Gallant. The addition of a new coach and new players should be enough to help Florida improve their standing this season.


Offense is undeniably a weak point for the Panthers. But the Cats hope to change that this season with the addition of Dave Bolland, Jussi Jokinen, and Derek Mackenzie. Two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Bolland will bring in much needed experience and his physical style of play can’t hurt at this point. One of the more worrisome additions to the Panthers offense is Jokinen. There is no doubt that Jokinen is talented and posted great numbers last season, but will Jokinen be able to deliver the same kind of performance without being backed up by the talent-rich Penguins line-up?

Key players returning to the Panthers this season include Nick Bjugstad, Scottie Upshall, and Brad Boyes. Bjugstad led the team with 38 points last season, and is one of the core players that the franchise will continue to grow around. Boyes’s offensive skills make him a great asset to the Panthers, but his skill in shootouts makes him invaluable.

Jonathan Huberdeau is another core player that is expected to help the Panthers make an improvement this season; however, Huberdeau will have to break his low scoring slump from last season if we want the Panthers overall offense to improve. Watch out for Aleksander Barkov this season as well; Barkov is coming off an impressive rookie season and can easily become one of the best offensive players on the Panthers this year.


The Panthers defense is set to improve with the addition of Aaron Ekblad. The 18 year-old was drafted first overall by the Panthers and is coming off of a dominating season with the Barrie Colts of the OHL. Ekblad can play big minutes and is a versatile defenseman; the addition of Ekblad will strengthen the Panthers at the blue line, as well as improve a defensive pairing.

Over the offseason, the Panthers also acquired former LA Kings player and 2014 Stanley Cup Champion, Willie Mitchell. Mitchell brings in a lot of experience to a relatively inexperienced team and his ability to play well under pressure, which can’t hurt a team that is notorious for giving up leads in the third period.


For the first time in years, goaltending will actually be Florida’s strongest point. Florida’s had a number of decent goaltenders over the years, The Panthers acquired Roberto Luongo from the Vancouver Canucks via trade last March, and he’s gearing up for his next full season as a Panther. Last season, Luongo played a total of 14 games for the Panthers posting a .924 save percentage and leading the club to its first shutout of the season. Luongo is expected to help improve the team’s 3.20 goals-against-average (29th in the league) from last season.

Backing up Luongo will be former Winnipeg Jet’s goaltender, Al Montoya. The Panthers signed the 29 year-old to a 2 year contract during the offseason. Montoya is expected to be one of the most consistent backup goaltenders that Florida has had in a while; playing 28 games with the Jets, Montoya posted a .920 save percentage and a 2.30 goals-against-average.


 Although I expect Florida to improve immensely from last season, they will still fall short of the playoffs this season. The Panthers are a young team and their younger talent still needs time to develop and become consistent before we can expect a playoff run out of them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *