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Tuesday Offseason Caterwaul: Florida Panthers Open Forum

Cats one of six teams that has Sportsnet’s Sean McIndoe confused

Florida Panthers v New York Islanders Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Florida Panthers are one of the teams highlighted in Sean McIndoe’s latest Down Goes Brown column What To Make of 6 Confusing Teams along with the Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets and Calgary Flames. Here’s what McIndoe had to say about the Cats.

Florida Panthers

They’ll be good because: They barely missed the playoffs last year, and they’re young enough that they you’d expect them to improve just based on players continuing to develop. The roster is stacked with guys 25 or under, including the top three scorers and former top pick Aaron Ekblad, and this feels like the year that Aleksander Barkov finally makes the leap from under-appreciated star to just plain star. Even the coach is still learning – Bob Boughner won 44 games in his first year behind an NHL bench, so you’d figure he’ll be even better in Year 2.

They’ll be bad because: The goaltending is at least a little bit of a question mark. Roberto Luongo was fantastic last year, but he’s 39 years old and has been battling through injuries. James Reimer is an excellent backup who can step in as a decent starter, but in the likely scenario where Luongo is hurt or his game declines, this won’t be a strength.

But they’ll probably be fine because: The Atlantic looks like a train wreck. The top three teams are all strong, but that leaves four more that could all be varying degrees of disaster. That should mean a lot of easy wins for the Panthers, and not much pressure in the rearview mirror.

Unless they’re not because: They’re the Panthers. This team always seems to find a way to sabotage itself, whether it’s through that disastrous 2016-17 shakeup or the expansion draft debacle. I know Florida fans are sick of hearing about mistakes made in the past, but at some point you have to wonder whether something is fundamentally broken when it comes to the decision-making process in this organization. And if so, what self-inflicted crisis are they going to pull off next?

The verdict: The Atlantic is basically three good teams, four bad ones, and then the Panthers trying to figure out which group they’re in. I’m pretty sure they’re a lot closer to the good group than the bad one, and it wouldn’t even be that big a shock to see them jump up and catch someone like Boston or Toronto. But the most likely outcome looks a lot like last year – an easy fourth-place finish and a wild-card fight with the Metro to get into the playoffs.

Check out the entire article on Sportsnet

New Signings

The New York Islanders signed forward Brock Nelson to a one-year deal worth $4.25 million, avoiding arbitration. Nelson appeared in all 82 games for the Isles last season and produced 19 goals and 16 assists. (Lighthouse Hockey)

Left wing William Carrier signed a two-year contract with an AAV of $725K with the Vegas Golden Knights. Carrier played 37 games for Vegas last season after being selected from Buffalo in the expansion draft. (Knights On Ice)

The Colorado Avalanche inked center Logan O’Connor to a two-year, entry-level contract. O’Connor put up a career-high 21 points in his junior campaign for the University of Denver in 2017-18. (Mile High Hockey)