Sportsnet ranked the 24 teams that will take part in the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Florida Panthers were near bottom, pulling a 21 ranking, ahead of only the New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens.
21. Florida Panthers
After spending a $10 million AAV on goalie Sergei Bobrovsky last free agency, the Panthers hoped for more than a .900 save percentage and 3.23 goals-against average. And who knows, perhaps Bobrovsky will return with a clearer head and a return to form. But defence remained a concern all year as well for the Panthers, and trading away Vincent Trocheck at the deadline was at best a sideways move in the present, and at worst a downgrade all around. They are capable enough of beating the Islanders, but does anyone feel great about this year’s biggest underperforming team suddenly finding “it” and having all prior concerns wash away? Not I.
As the 10-seed in the Eastern Conference, the ranking is not at all surprising, however I will point out that Sportsnet did out both the 10 and 11-seeds, the Minnesota Wild and Arizona Coyotes, from the Western Conference ahead of the Panthers.
There nothing earth-shattering in the blurb, either. It seems little is known of the Panthers outside of South Florida, other than that Bobrovsky was somewhat of a flop and Trocheck won’t be around to be tripped in a key spot this time.
The good news for the Cats, other than these rankings being rather meaningless, is that they only have to worry about one of the other 23-teams in the running for Lord Stanley’s silver chalice right now, and that’s the 17th ranked New York Islanders.
17. New York Islanders
Never underestimate a team coached by Barry Trotz. This year’s Islanders were not performing like the 2018-19 version — they had a minus-1 goal differential and were struggling in the lead-up to the pause — but since momentum (good or bad) is likely out the window, preparation is what’s most important. Trotz’s system has proven effective with this team before and, after a couple weeks of training camp to get up to speed again, the Islanders could possibly find last season’s magic again.
Boston was slotted first in the power rankings, Tampa Bay fourth, Washington was ninth, surprisingly one spot below Philadelphia, who came in at eight.