R. Aaron Houde \ Aug 10th, 2019
It has been a rough go of things for the Florida Panthers. With only two appearances in the Playoffs (both first-round exits), they cannot seem to build a core. But another season is upon us, and the Panthers look to take the ice on September 16 against the Nashville Predators, and another chance to right the ship behind newly appointed head coach Joel Quenneville.
The Panthers’ big addition to the team is goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who signed a 7 year, $70M contract as a free agent. Additionally, the team picked up defenseman Anton Stralman, right-winger Brett Connolly, and center Noel Acciari as free agents. In trades, the Panthers picked up Scott Darling from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for James Reimer, and Dominic Toninato from the Colorado Avalanche. With their first pick in the NHL Draft, the Panthers selected goaltender Spencer Knight.
After 19 seasons in the NHL, goaltender Roberto Luongo announced his retirement. Additionally, the team traded backup goaltender James Reimer in the exchange for Darling. To date, the Panthers have 12 players in the free agency pool without a contract.
Overview of Changes:
The Panthers are trying to build a team around the likes of Vincent Trocheck, Aleksander Barkov, and Jonathan Huberdeau, but have not found the right mix of players, and they haven’t found the right goalie to fill the crease. Adding Bobrovsky for such a steep price, signing a goaltender with their first pick, and shopping for a reliable backup while preparing Knight for the NHL shows they are trying to address the backend first.
Even with the changes in the crease, can the offense produce? Putting up 267 goals last season is impressive, but with 12 players from last year’s team still sitting in limbo, that is a massive overhaul to your dressing room. However, the fact remains that 86 points are not enough, and 14 of those points came from overtime losses (tied for most in the league with the New York Rangers and the Avalanche).
It may take more time for the team to gain some headway. They will remain competitive in the meantime, but I think with a new coach, and such an overhaul happening, patience will be a virtue.
Final vote – Another Absence.
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