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2018-2019 NHL Preview: Florida Panthers

A lot of offense, very little defense.

Florida Panthers v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Fourteenth up are the Florida Panthers (currently in their 25th season in the NHL), they have made the playoffs once in the last five years where they lost in the first round to the New York Islanders.

2017 – 2018 NHL Stats:

NHL Standings: 16th
Goals for Rank: 14th
Goals against Rank: 18th
PP Rank: 21st
PK Rank: 16th

Projected 2018-2019 NHL Stats

NHL Standings: 18th
Eastern Conference Standings: 9th
Pacific Division Standings: 4th
Coach: Bob Boughner (2nd season in Florida 44-30-8 record)

Overview:

This team is massively talented on forward. Winnipeg Jets were very much in a similar boat but their recent deep playoff run finally got some eyes on the talent they have on offense. In a similar fashion Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, Jonathan Huberdeau and Evgenii Dadonov are a great top four in Florida. Four players who scored 25+ goals, a feat that only Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Vegas can claim. They add Mike Hoffman to the list giving a very strong top six (Nick Bjugstad being the other). Going even deeper, Frank Vatrano, Henrik Borgstrom, Jared McCann and Colton Sceviour provide a great combination of youth, grit, two way playing depth that make this among the best offenses in the league. They led the league in shooting last year despite being 14th in goals scored. This is an area that should improve next year. Once you look past forward; however, it gets bleak. They have #1 overall pick Aaron Ekblad and Keith Yandle as the top unit who are average but Michael Matheson, mark Pysyk and Mackenzie Weegar don’t provide enough support behind that making the Panthers a porous defensive unit. This team allowed the 3rd most shots against last year and Roberto Luongo did what he does best, stand on his head amidst a barrage of shots. He sported a 2.47 GAA and a .929 Sv % (good enough for third best in the league). The main issue is that Roberto is now 39 years old and can’t continue at this amazing pace he has set. They were 18th in goals against and I think that regresses to the bottom quarter of the league if they continue to allow shots at the pace they were at last season.

Major Additions:

Mike Hoffman, Frank Vatrano

Major Subtractions:

None

Prospects and Picks:

-Henrik Borgstrom. Taken 23rd overall in the 2016 draft, Henrik had two very productive years at the University of Denver posting a cumulative 95 points across 77 games including 45 goals. He was brought up for just four games last year scoring a goal in the process. He looks like he will crack the lineup again this year landing potentially on the third line and adding to the plethora of offensive talent that this team holds.

-Grigori Denisenko. A winger from Russia, he was among the youngest in the class having just turned 18 years old. He had 9 goals in 31 games in the Russian Juniors last year and while the talent is strong, he has some growth to go. In drafting him the Panthers are making a more long term investment than an immediate turnaround.

Sleeper Fantasy Asset:

-Evgenii Dadonov. In his first season back in the NHL after 5 years in the KHL he did not disappoint. He scored 28 goals and put up 65 points as the top line of Dadonov, Barkov and Huberdeau was electric. Depending on how he is ranked he has the ability to meet or exceed the 65 points with around 25-30 goals including somewhere around 15 power play points. The team put their faith into Evgenii and he rewarded them handsomely. I will add one note of caution that I think his success is contingent on this top line which currently has a perfect blend of playmakers and scorers.

Cap Situation:

$60MM Spent; $15M in Cap room; 19 players signed; average team age 27.

Poll

Are the Panthers a top 7 offense this year?

This poll is closed

  • 96%
    Yes
    (32 votes)
  • 3%
    No
    (1 vote)
33 votes total Vote Now