Who will lead the Panthers in scoring this season? That is the question du jour. As far as I am concerned, this is only a four horse race. I would be shocked if the Florida Panthers scoring leader was not one of the following players: Jonathan Huberdeau, Tomas Fleischmann, Kris Versteeg or Shawn Matthias. Last year Fleischmann took home the title with 35 points and Jonathan Huberdeau was close on his tail with 31.
Defenseman Brian Campbell could challenge for the top spot, he has finished third and fourth on the team in scoring the last two seasons, but if he is the teams top scorer at the end of the year that probably means things mighty poorly for the offense so lets just put that thought on the back burner.
Shawn Matthias only scored 21 points last season but he was tied with Huberdeau for second on the team with 14 goals. Many are expecting Matthias to make a big jump this season and he should receive top line minutes which could boost his scoring. The player that led Florida in goals last season is actually not one of the four aforementioned players, it was Tomas Kopecky who finished the season with 15 goals and 27 points. In 47 games, Kopecky tied the career high in goals he set with the Blackhawks in 2010-11 the only difference was with Chicago it took him 81 games to reach that total. I suspect that last season’s production was a bit of an outlier but he at least deserves to be in the conversation.
The wild card in all of this is Aleksander Barkov. The chances are good that he will suffer his fair share of struggles in his first NHL season so I would be amazed if he could lead the Panthers in scoring from day one. Barkov should be productive this year for the Panthers but will he lead the team in scoring? I think not.
If I had to pick, I would go with Jonathan Huberdeau. As he gets more and more comfortable in the league, I think we will see his point totals surge. One of his most talked about attributes has been his playmaking ability but he only finished last season with 17 assists. With more experience, that number should jump through the roof.
What do you think? Share you thoughts in the poll or voice your opinion in the comments section.