Mar 30, 2013; Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers center Shawn Matthias (18) celebrates his game tying goal against the New Jersey Devils with teammates center Tomas Kopecky (82) and center Tomas Fleischmann (14) in the third period at the BB

Projecting the Panthers: Early August Edition

The manic upheaval that comes with the start of free agency in July has transitioned to the much more subdued calm of August. At this point in the off-season most teams have a pretty good idea of who they will be going to battle with in the fall and aside from a few tweaks here and there, the names you see on the roster are it. In other words, Wayne Gretzkey ain’t gonna be walking through that door.

For the Florida Panthers this means “youth” will be the word-of-the-season. Not much has changed since our July roster projection, the biggest move being the addition of center Scott Gomez. If the season started today, here is the roster I expect the Panthers to roll with:

Forwards:

Tomas Fleischmann-Shawn Matthias-Kris Versteeg

Jonathan Huberdeau-Sasha Barkov-Scottie Upshall

Sean Bergenheim-Marcel Goc-Tomas Kopecky

Quinton Howden-Scott Gomez-Bobby Butler

Missed the cut: Drew Shore, Nick Bjugstad, Joey Crabb, Jesse Winchester, Eric Selleck, Vincent Trocheck

Defense:

Brian Campbell-Dmitry Kulikov

Mike Weaver-Erik Gudbranson

Alex Petrovic-Colby Robak

Missed the cut: Ed JovanovskiMike Mottau, Jonathan Racine, Michael Caruso

Goaltenders:

Jacob Markstrom

Scott Clemmensen

This and That:

  • The defense and goalies remain unchanged from the July projections. Without much happening roster-wise in these areas I saw no reason to make any adjustments.
  • With the forwards I was forced to make some tough decisions. In an effort to accurately project who the Panthers will roll with day one, I had to shut out my fan-ness and try to think about the roster objectively. For example, I would love to see Bjugstad and Shore on the opening day roster, but to be honest I always lean towards youth over questionably productive veterans because youth is so much more exciting. As a fan there is nothing like the unknown potential of a gifted young player. Veterans can be boring. Scott Gomez? Boring. You know what your going to get with him and while that may be preferable for a general manager, it lacks the same veneer of intrigue and anticipation that comes with players like Shore and Bjugstad.
  • I think its safe to say that Marcel Goc will be, at the very least, the third line center. In my July projection I mentioned that I could see the Panthers moving Goc to a wing to make room for a younger center but in doing my Offseason Outlook on Goc, I talked myself into believing that if there is one center the Panthers will not move to a wing, that center is Goc. He does so many valuable things for the team at the center position that it would be crazy to move him. I could even see Goc centering the second line at the start of the season which would allow Barkov to start the year in the bottom six thus giving him, Barkov, time and space to develop with less immediate pressure.
  • It feels weird to have Quinton Howden on the roster but not Drew Shore.
  • I was stuck between Bobby Butler and Joey Crabb for the last right wing spot. In Crabb’s favor is his one way contract, the Panthers could pay Butler significantly less if he is playing in the AHL but they have to pay Crabb his full contract regardless. In Butler’s favor is his youth, as he is four years younger than Crabb. Since I have never seen much of either player I went with youth, as I am wont to do.

 

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