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Cat scratch fever- The Panthers year in review


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2nd on my list will be the Florida Panthers. mFdK_XfiyKiIKHIy5cjZ1YQ.jpg


High, very high in fact. A full season of Luongo in net, newcomer Aaron Ekblad manning the blue line and the kid forwards another year older. THN picked them for the playoffs. Most everyone picked them to be in the conversation.




HIGH POINT OF THE YEAR: Probably the trade for Jagr, showing fans that they were serious about a run.


LOW POINT OF THE YEAR: When Nick Bjugstad went down with ten games to go it signaled the end. He is the heart of the team.


WHAT WENT RIGHT: Bobby Lu was as good as advertized and continues to talk about how happy he is in sunrise. Aaron Ekblad showed the promise that he will win multiple Norris trophies in his career, even a three point game in the All Star game at the age of nineteen. Bjugstad had 24 goals, Pirri had 22, Huberdeal (15-39-54) is developing into a star or close to it, Barkov (16-20-36) mamade strides. Hayes added 19 goals. Free agent signee Jussi Jokinen was solid all year. Jagr potted 18 points in 20 games and did not put the team thru any will he or wont he nonsense by resigning early.351348779713_1.jpg


 WHAT WENT WRONG: There are years that 91 points make the playoffs, this wasn't one of them. Brian Campbell took a huge regressive step back. Dave Bolland missed a third of the year and was boring and bad when he did play, after signing a five year 25 million dollar deal. Upshall and Kopecky were downright terrible.


MVP: Hands down Luongo. He gave the team a face and kept them on the edge of contending all year.



Brett Olsen

Scottie Upshall



 Vincent Trochek has gotten some playing time over the past two years, and has shown serious offensive ability. I look for him to nail down a top six role if he gets his defense up to his offense. Alex Petrovic should finally nail down a regular spot on the back end. Rocca Grimaldi is thought of highly in some corners.

  A big problem with the Panthers is they have had so many top picks in a row, they are already in the NHL. They have less NHL ready players who arent in the game than most any team.


STRANGE STAT OF THE YEAR: Huberdeau had 54 points and played on the top power play all year and managed ZERO power play goals. But the strangest stat has to be Brandon Pirri


PIRRI 22 GOALS 2 ASSISTS. Easily this years Cy Young award winner.



 Does Campbell have anything left? Bolland, is he the worst signing since Clarkson? Can he bounce back? Most importantly will the kids continue their growth, Huberdeau, Barkov and Bjugstad are turning into nice players, are they done growing or do they have more? Is Ekblad the next Bobby Orr? Does Jagr have another year left in his remarkable career?


 Overall, they got rid of a lot of the flotsam and dead wood and have an abundance of youth at the NHL level with a happy tender and an old goat sniper. I really love where these guys are at.

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Outside of attendance (an unfortunate thing), the future DOES look real bright for these guys.


While I said the Dallas Stars gave up too many damned goals, THIS team scores too FEW damned goals!


Either some of the core has to step up and develop into consistent producers, or the organization has to smartly comb the league for guys who can come in and be snipers.

A very exciting, hard working, defensively decent (and getting better) team, anchored by a goalie who can still get the job done hampered by VERY inconsistent goal scoring.


I often joked this season that the Florida Panthers had a two goal cap limit.....but really, that wasn't too far off.

They lost many close games and many low scoring games.....things that could have been remedied by a more consistent offense with a proven sniper or two in there.


I am sure this will come. Dave Tallon has done a real nice job of assembling players there, either through their drafting and developing or smart signings.

As you said @yave1964 , some dead wood was released too.

They probably still have a contract or two they may need to somehow rid themselves of (maybe a Brian Campbell or Willie Mitchell?) and replace them with upgrades in the late 20 something range making a bit less....but overall, nice job by the GM in selecting who to keep and let go.


Add in a pair of true goal scorers and the team continuing to do what it did this season, and this team could make the playoffs next season. Perhaps with the money they were paying the now UFA Kopecky and Upshall, they could go find themselves a decent scorer...even it is a stop-gap one till they can develop their own sniper?


Maybe coax a Joel Ward from the Caps to come down to Florida...or a Curtis Glencross?


I look forward to a good playing, playoff bound Florida Panther team to go along with an already contending Lightning team.

Let the REAL rivalry truly begin!

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