Before the Florida Panthers look at the free agent market to decide which players they will bring, they will have to look at the players they have in place now that are under contract for the upcoming season.
The Panthers currently have 13-forwards under contract for the following season that played in the NHL last season, led by last year’s second overall pick Aleksander Barkov and the team’s leading scorer Nick Bjugstad.
Panthers Forward Depth Chart
|Sean Bergenheim||Aleksander Barkov||Brad Boyes|
|Jonathan Huberdeau||Nick Bjugstad||Scottie Upshall|
|Tomas Fleischmann||Vincent Trocheck||Tomas Kopecky|
|Quinton Howden||Drew Shore||Bobby Butler|
For the team has in upside, they lack some experience as Bjugstad’s 87-career games is the most out of any center. Barring any acquisitions Bjugstad and Barkov will begin the year as the team’s top two centers.
The picture isn’t clear right now with Trocheck and Shore. Injuries forced Trocheck into NHL playing time earlier than Dale Tallon likely wanted, but he certainly held his own in his 20-game stint with the Panthers. Shore bounced back and forth between Florida and San Antonio and due to his two-way potential and the depth down the middle, he could be a shiny piece to dangle in a potential trade.
Tomas Fleischmann had a terribly disappointing season, only scoring eight goals – an unacceptable number for your highest paid forward. Along with Fleischmann, Sean Bergenheim, Jonathan Huberdeau and potentially Quinton Howden all make for a potentially good group of left wingers.
Fleischmann and Huberdeau had disappointing year, but certainly are in line for a bounce back season this coming campaign. Bergenheim had a great year, scoring 16-goals which is the second highest total of his career.
Scottie Upshall had a breakout season at 30-years old, setting a career high in both points and assists. He also spent time as one of the team’s alternate captains behind Ed Jovanovski. He will be joined on the right side with Tomas Kopecky, and Brad Boyes with Bobby Butler and Joey Crabb providing depth from San Antonio.
Kopecky was injured during the Olympics, missing the rest of the regular season after taking to the head in Slovakia’s game against Slovenia. He was under performing as it was, with only 12-points in 46-games – only four of which were goals (a six goal pace over 82-games).
Boyes was the star of the right wingers, as his 21-goals was the most on the team and the most he has scored in a season since 2008-2009. He was given a two-year contract extension before the trade deadline, likely keeping him from getting dealt.
The Panthers have some pieces in place, but still need plenty of help if they want to keep heading in the right direction. Some of that help will be from the team’s three restricted free agents that played in the NHL last season (Garrett Wilson, Brandon Pirri, and Jimmy Hayes), others will come from the roughly $30 million they have to spend this offseason.
What they decide to add will depend on how they feel about the current forwards they have on their roster.
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