After breaking the down current forwards the Florida Panthers have under contract for the upcoming season, here is a look at the defenseman they already have locked up for the following season.
Not only did the Panthers struggle putting the puck in the net, they had just as hard a problem keeping the puck out of the net, finishing second to last in both goals-per-game and goals-against-per-game.
Due to injuries, the blue line was a revolving door at times and only three Panthers’ defenseman played more than 70-games. Brian Campbell was the lone ironman of the group, and he returns to the Panthers in the last year of the big contract he signed as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Only Ryan Suter and Erik Karlsson averaged more time on ice than Campbell, which showed the last part of season when he didn’t quite have the step that he usually did. Along with ‘Soupy’, Ed Jovanovski, Alex Petrovic, and Colby Robak were the only players who played more than a handful of NHL experience.
Petrovic showed some promise until he was injured, but Robak struggled to find his way in the defensive zone. Jovanovski didn’t end the season on the best of notes, was ejected for throwing a forearm into an opponent, and now there are questions surrounding whether or not he will even return.
All three players will compete for time on the bottom pairing, and they could very well be the team’s fifth, sixth, and seventh defenders going into next season – depending on who they bring in outside of the organization.
The Panthers have three defenseman in the system that along with restricted free agent Erik Gudbranson project to be the future of the blue line, so this year they may go for some stop gaps as oppose to long term fixes.
That means going into free agency, the current players under contract may not be what the Panthers use to build battle plan.
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