Ok, it might be kind of tough to start out with that comment, however based on what’s happened so far, I cannot be pleased with the offseason moves. Or should I say lack of.
First of all Jay Bouwmeester was practically given away. I know alot of people will be pleased that we obtained a draft pick and Jordan Leopold, but in reality Jacques Martin and the Panthers organEYEzation blew this one. Keeping Jay because they felt that they had a shot at making the playoffs, which they did, and also hoping that he would stay if they did was a gamble that I am sure they are wishing they could do over. In addition Jay’s play went completely downhill after the deadline.
The major acquisition of the offseason looks like Steven Reinprecht from the Phoenix Coyotes. Steven, while a very serviceable player is going to be thursted into a second line center position even though in reality he is a third liner at best. Scott Clemmensen acquired via free agency was a decent pickup as a backup to Tomas Vokoun due to the departure of Craig Anderson who ultimatley left for a chance to compete for the starters position with Colorado. Clemmensen will have to prove that last year was not an abberation, and that he’s as good as he showed, not just benefiting from a stingy New Jersey Devils system.
In keeping up with recent Panther tradition (we must have a Ville on the roster) the Panthers acquired defenseman Ville Koistenen from Nashville, taking the “Ville spot” for Ville Peltonen who has left for Europe.. Plans are that Ville will make the club this year, and from what I have read, we better hold our breath when he’s out there. He has talent but has proven to be a liability.
First round draft pick from this years draft, Dmitry Kulikov will be given an opportunity to make the big club this year which could be a good thing if the youngster can prove that he belongs. I say, what’s the rush? Unless he significantly outplays everyone else, he’s better off with more seasoning. Potential other defensemen to make the club are Jasen Garisson and former first round pick Keaton Ellerby.
Let’s not forget two other’s that were picked up as well. Jeff Taffe and Graham Mink. Both journeymen, these players were picked up more for the Panthers AHL roster affiliate Rockford, but will probably be one of the first to be called up if there’s an injury. Yikes!
There are still some players available who have not signed yet. Alex Tanguay, who has been rumoured to have signed, then not signed. Petr Sykora, Mike Comrie, and even Todd Bertuzzi is still available though I doubt he would come back.
So all in all, it’s been a pretty uneventful summer. On paper this team doesn’t look that good. But the games are not played on paper, they are played on the ice. This is where coach Peter DeBoer is going to have to show his stuff and try to get blood out of a turnip as the phrase goes. The Panthers lack scoring, lack a true number one center, and the defense is going to be very suspect. There is still time to make some changes either via trade, or signing a player or two. Otherwise, it’s going to be a long season.
My Grade? A solid C-. Although if we consider Jacques Martin leaving, then I’ll upgrade to a C.
Thanks for reading!