Review Of 2011-2012: 38-26-18, 94 points, 3rd in Eastern Conference, Lost series in first round to New Jersey, 4-3.
Additions via free agency: Jason DeSantis. Scott Clemmensen, Greg Rallo, Jon Rheault, Dov Grumet-Morris,Filip Kuba,Jean-Francois Jacques, Andre Deveaux, James Wright, Mike Caruso, Brian Foster, Kris Versteeg, Eric Selleck, Casey Wellman
Additions via trade: Casey Wellman
Subtractions: Mikael Samuelsson, Wojtek Wolski, Marco Sturm, John Madden, Krystopher Barch, Jason Garrison
Florida’s offense isn’t as high scoring as many (27th in goals for, last year), but they can still get the job done in the southeast. Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann, and Stephen Weiss will be the main factors for Florida’s offensive, and powerplay production this season. Last year, they made up about 35% of Florida’s entire goal scoring, and 15 of those goals, were gamewinners. The real question mark this season is rookie center Jonathan Huberdeau, a very creative offensive player, he could really rack up points in his first year, or he could spend it figuring out NHL level play (if he makes it to that level at all this season). Another two big names to watch this season are Marcel Goc and Tomas Kopecky. Goc, had a shortened season last year, but still managed 27 points. Kopecky had a down year stat wise, but should be able to pick it up again this year, especially if given more powerplay time.
Florida’s defense is led again by Brian Campbell, who just had a career best 53 point season, while his +/- has seen better days, nobody can argue with the point total. 50 points isn’t out of the question, but for Campbell, it should be more about working on his defensive game a bit, and less about scoring, if he can find a better balance, it will not only make him, but the team better. Mike Weaver and Ed Jovonovski are the veterans on this blueline. Jovo has seen better days on the ice, but him, as well as Weaver, can still rack up a few points and play decent hockey. Dmitry Kulikov and Filip Kuba are the real heart and soul of The Panthers defense. A combined 60 points, 10 of those goals, not very hard to see each of them hitting the 30 point march again this season. Erik Gudbranson is entering his 2nd season, will be interesting to see what he does.
Jose Theodore had a impressive 11-12′ campaign, going 22-16-11, putting up his best goals against average and save percentage in the last 5 years. Theodore looks to keep his starting role in Florida, and should put up another good year’s worth of work. Backing up Theodore is Scott Clemmensen, a very servicable backup capable of taking the starting role if the situation calls for it. Jacob Markstrom needs more AHL time, but there is no ruling out seeing him again sometime this season, but as for a full time job, that will probably wait until next season.
Prediction: 2nd in Southeast Division, 8th In Eastern Conference
Believe Washington will get it together this season and take the division title back from Florida this year, but it will not be a easy fight. Still believe Florida can make the playoffs, it comes down to their goaltending, if Theodore caa pull off a repeat performance of last year.