Thursday's acquisition of veteran center Marty Reasoner assuredly wraps up the question of who the Panthers will be sporting at center ice, at least to begin the season:
Stephen Weiss - Steven Reinprecht - Shawn Matthias - Reasoner
Rome wasn't built in a day, and nor will a contending Panthers squad. On that note, sorry kids...Dominic Moore will not be making a triumphant return. Honestly though, it's not a bad lineup down the middle for a rebuilding club:
- Weisser's coming off a career year in goals, doubling his output from 2008-09 to 28, but here's the stat that carries weight: he still managed 60 points after the combined losses - especially on the PP - of David Booth and Nathan Horton (71 man-games in the toilet). That's a grande feat considering last year's Cats. Potential wingers: Booth, Michael Frolik.
- Rhino played all 82 games, at which 38 points may appear a bit underwhelming, save for a few hot streaks when combined with Cory Stillman. Regardless, ten of those points came on the power play, and the possibility of his combining with a consistent core of uninjured linemates is intriguing. He's not getting younger, but the right mix of supporting players would certainly help matters. Potential wingers: Christopher Higgins, Rostislav Olesz.
- Matty gained credibility with his strong second-half play; though not necessarily garnering a gaggle of points, his physical presence on the ice increased dramatically, SOG rocketed up, and regular observers could see the maturation process at work; more ice time will only better his opportunities. If he continues at the same pace Reinprecht could find himself manning the third line. Which is, of course, the end game. Potential wingers: Radek Dvorak, Stillman.
- Reasoner's no enigma here: having spent the past two seasons with Atlanta, he's not a stranger to the Cats' coaching staff (what remains of it). What would be strange is an ability to replicate the 30-point season of 08-09 playing with the likes of Kenndal McArdle and Byron Bitz, though many see, not unreasonably, far more potential down the road in all three players. He's got a boatload of games behind him, is well respected around the league, and wins faceoffs. Potential wingers: the aforementioned, plus any combination of Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier, Mike Duco, Michal Repik, Evgeni Dadonov, and a virtual cast of half a dozen others.
Dollarwise, that's a collectively bargain basement bill coming in just short of $7.1M (U.S., per CapGeek). For four centers. Cheap? Unquestionably. Wise? Considering the genuine "rebuild" phase Florida finds itself in...yes. None of the organization's prospects at center are anywhere near ready for the big club.