The Florida Panthers went into Free Agency giving all the command to Dale Tallon. Dale went into July 1st with a plan, and a plan many were confused to see.
Tallon’s thought process during Free Agency was to dump/let go off the older players, and to replace them with younger players down from the minors. Many think that ownership may have cut spending internally and didn’t feel the need to spend on higher end players. There are others who truly believe that Dale cut ties with some of our older guys, in order to give us more cap flexibility down the road.
Both points are definitely valid/legit. However, I truly believe that Dale wants our young guns to finally take over the team. As we saw this past offseason, there will be no more Jagr or Jokinen. The youngsters will not be able to turn to them when seeking help. Instead, they will have to turn to each other. The motto of this team will be: “it’s your team now”, in reference to the younger guys taking the lead.
While it’s great to see our youngsters finally take the reigns of the team, many are concerned if they’re really ready. Firstly, Barkov and Huberdeau will need to stay healthy. The Cats cannot afford a quarter of the injuries they experienced last year. If Huby and Barky miss even 10 games each, you can kiss the playoffs goodbye. Both those two (especially Barkov), are far too important to the team.
Secondly, Trocheck will need to continue to score at the rate he’s been going at, or if not more. Bjugstad on the other hand will really need to step up and find his old footing again. We need the old Nick who drives hard to the net creating havoc and chaos around goal. A healthy/yet effective big Nick will certainly add another threat upfront.
Thirdly and lastly, Aaron Ekblad will need to bounce back from his below par year last season. Ekblad is easily our best defenseman at the back, and can make all the difference for the team when on his game. As we take a look at his first two seasons (especially his rookie year), Aaron can definitely step up to any challenge, night in and night out. If Ek can make adjustments and rediscover his form again, it’s only another weapon to have on the team.
Dale certainly has the right idea of letting the youth take charge of the team. Although, the question will remain: “Was it too soon?”. Will definitely find that out after the season concludes. But the question will be answered in response to how the boys play. It’s all up to them.
At the end of the day, Dale is giving them the opportunity to step up and take control of this team. While the fans remain “wary” over the new direction of this team, it can all be a success if the players embrace the new challenge given to them.