The Florida Panthers were included in Part I of Rotoworld’s Eastern Conference preview along with four other Atlantic Division teams. I have carved out the text pertaining to the Panthers below. The rest of the preview can found by clicking the links: Part I / Part II / Part III
2019-20 Finish: 35-26-8 record, qualifying round loss to NY Islanders (3-1)
Noteworthy Gains: Patric Hornqvist, Alexander Wennberg, Carter Verhaeghe, Markus Nutivaara, Radko Gudas
Noteworthy Losses: Evgenii Dadonov, Mike Hoffman, Mike Matheson, Brian Boyle, Colton Sceviour
Strengths: Florida’s offense ranked sixth in the league last season with 3.30 goals for per game played. Jonathan Huberdeau has produced at an elite-level over the last two season, which includes a 78-point performance (23 goals, 55 assists) in 69 matches during the 2019-20 campaign. Aleksander Barkov is among the top young centers in the league. They have the ability to push the Panthers forward despite the departures of Dadonov and Hoffman, who remains an unrestricted free agent. Florida had the 10th-best power play in the league last season with a success rate of 21.3%.
Weaknesses: There are question marks surrounding offensive depth, but Wennberg, Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad can contribute. The Panthers could also get a boost from prospects Owen Tippett and/or Grigori Denisenko. Florida’s major issue is in the defensive zone, as the team surrendered the fourth-most high-danger scoring chances against (481) at 5-on-5 in 2019-20. Sergei Bobrovsky was brought in to solve the team’s goaltending problem and he struggled mightily in the first season of his seven-year, $70 million contract. He will have to find a way to bounce back, especially if his teammates don’t find a way to improve in their own end in front of him.
Player to Watch: Tippett and Denisenko are both worth monitoring during camp because they will be placed in opportunities to succeed. Tippett spent the 2019-20 season in the AHL with Springfield. He notched 19 goals and 40 points in 46 games during his rookie campaign. Tippett, who was taken 10th overall by the Panthers in the 2017 NHL Draft, had one goal in seven appearances with Florida during the 2017-18 campaign. The roster changes in the offseason are slated to give him a chance to land a top-six forward spot going into the year.
There will be a few Panthers in action today in Europe.
In Liiga, Eetu Luostarinen and KalPa will take on Pelicans.
Aleksi Saarela and Lukko will face Sanntu Kinnunen and Tappara.
In Tipos Extraliga, Alec Rauhauser and DVTK Polar Bears will face HK Poprad.
In NCAA action, Boston College (Logan Hutsko, Spencer Knight) will open its season against Massachusetts at 6 p.m. (NESN)
Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving yesterday!