The Panthers have had one of the more interesting years thus far, after startling slowly and firing their head coach they have gone on a recent tear to fourth in the division. They wasted a good opportunity to make up some points on TOR and OTT last night with a loss to Edmonton but remain in the Playoff Picture. They are also tied with the NYI for the second wild-card spot with virtually no chance of catching the Rangers for the first wild-card spot.
Who they are: Buyers?
Florida had a pretty tough start to the year leading to the firing of the head coach. After a great performance last year during the regular season and postseason the Panthers went out and signed Kieth Yandle to 7 year/44MM contract. Yandle has not lived up to the hype with sub-par defense and only 3 goals and 26 assists through 58 games. They still have Jaromir Jagr who is surprisingly playing about 17 min a night, but obviously has slowed down some. Jagr says he’ll play till he cant anymore and while retirement may not be around the corner it is at the end of the block.
Injuries to their stud Centerman Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau has been the main reason behind their -14 goal differential. They rank a below-average 21st in goals for/game but a more league avg 14th in goals against/game. While their powerplay is nothing to talk about their penalty kill is 85.2% so far this year.
Florida is coming out of their rebuilding phase and it really seemed like this was their year to take the next step and considering the injuries it is tough to evaluate. They rank 26th on the power play, not great numbers for a team that not only was supposed to take the next step but also went out and signed Keith Yandle. They have been injured and have won 8 out of their last ten beating top teams such as Ana, LAK, Nash, SJ, ANA again, LAK again, and STL so they are peaking at the right time.
Florida has rebuilt nicely around Barkov, Huberdeau, Trocheck, Bjugstad, Smith, and Ekblad where they are a team still improving and competing at the same time. I would estimate that if Florida does anything it will be minimal. They have been playing well lately and now that their team is healthier they will make a run at the playoffs.
2017: 1st, 2nd, 3,rd 5th with addition 3rd (ARI) and 6tth (ANA)
2018: 1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th, with a second from Arizona
Offense Offense Offense. They rank 21st in goals per game, 26th on the PP, whereas they are 14th in goals against and 3rd on the PK. They have a very good goalie in Louongo in net who hasn’t played poorly so on the defensive side of the puck things are fine.
.Mike Cammaleri: with 10 gaols, 20 assists in 53 games this year Cammaleri has seem to fallen out of favor with the Devils. One of the issues, which really isn’t an issue for Florida, is the cap hit. He is signed for 3 more years at $5MM per year, which isn’t great for a one dimensional player especially one who is already 34 years old. The Panthers have the Cap space but they need to sign a pair of young defensemen soon.
Patrick Eaves could add some spark, offense, and physicality and it seems like Dallas will move him. The issue is that with the sellers market and the way the season has gone so far for the Panthers the price may not be worth it.