2010-2011 Team Preview - Florida Panthers

God help the Panthers. And not because I have anything in particular to make me hope that they do well, but mostly because they’re going to need all the help they can get to avoid an enormous tragedy of a season that most people are expecting (including myself). The Panthers were pretty much awful last season, and if anything can be said optimistic about this season, at least Keith Ballard will (probably) not hit his own goalkeeper in the head during a fit of frustration (good news for Luongo). Yea if you didn’t see that last year, check it out. It’s fairly tragic.

Overview:

I don’t see the Panthers having much luck this season (or the next… or the next), and that’s mostly because they’re stuck with a collection of players that are just not terribly talented. It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances, because it’s not a lack of “fit,” or something along those lines. The team is just not very good. They don’t have any elite forwards, elite defensemen, and a moderately strong keeper in the form of Vokoun is just not enough to keep them afloat.

Key Players:

Tomas Vokoun, Stephen Weiss, David Booth

Offense:

Ummm, they don’t have much. What is there to say optimistically? Well, if David Booth is healthy (and barring an incident with Mike Richards he should be), he may net 30 goals again, although with a distinct lack of weapons behind him, teams will be free to key in on him to shut him down. The ability of Booth to push through strong defense will determine if the Panthers offense will be pathetic, or just weak. Frankly, I’m leaning toward pathetic. Sorry Panthers fans…

Defense:

Yea… this isn’t a whole heck of a lot better. Tomas Vokoun is a talented keeper, and has the potential to steal some games for this team. Dmitry Kulikov is a player to watch for the future, and will likely make up the #1 pairing in Florida this season along with Brian McCabe. After that there’s not a whole heck of a lot. It’s certainly possible that a couple youngsters step up and impress, but I’m not seeing that either.

Prediction:

So I usually try to put a few silver lining notes in the previews, even for weak teams in the league. You know, something to make the fans of the Panthers have a little something to look forward to. Unfortunately there’s not much of that this time. Michael Frolik could take a big step forward this year, but even with such a move, I don’t see the Panthers climbing out of the cellar. They may be better than Toronto this season, but realistically it seems unlikely. At least there are some good prospects in the 2011 draft?

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Tags: Brian McCabe David Booth Dmitry Kulikov Florida Panthers Keith Ballard Michael Frolik Mike Richards Roberto Luongo Stephen Weiss Tomas Vokoun

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