Florida Panthers: Young core to take on more of a leadership role

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 05: Jonathan Huberdeau
BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 05: Jonathan Huberdeau /

With some of the veterans gone from last season, the Florida Panthers will be turning their attention towards the young core.

This upcoming season will definitely signal a new era for the Panthers. Out with old (veterans), and in with the new (young players). The tide is turning for the Cats and the team is banking on the youth for success. It’s the young cores team now and it could all possibly work out for the better.

Guys like Ekblad, Huberdeau, Barkov, Trocheck and even Bjugstad are all expected to step up and lead this team now. They will not have Jagr, Jokinen or even Vanek to turn too. The five I mentioned above will only have each other, and even some veterans guys like Vrbata, Luongo, MacKenzie and even Sceviour, will all follow their lead.

The days of having a “safety net” to fall back on are over. If anything, the young core I mentioned earlier will be the safety net for the new guys coming in. Ekblad won’t have Campbell (or others) to fall back on. Huby and Barky won’t have Jagr. Vinnie won’t have Jussi, and Bjugstad won’t have Vanek. See the trend? All three of those veteran players will not be with the team next year.

While a lot of us fans are worried and anxious to see how well the Panthers pull it off next year, there really are a lot of questions surrounding the team. It starts off with the forward group. The forwards lost quite a bit this summer and it’ll be hard to recover from that lost. The only way to achieve success upfront is to hope that Jonny and Aleksander both remain healthy next year.

Without those two in the lineup, the Panthers don’t honestly stand a chance. While it may be a “cruel” thing to say, it’s only the truth deep down. The Cats don’t have a lot to work with upfront, and they’ll be banking on 11, 16, 21 and 27 to carry the load offensively.

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The defense on the other hand will have a lot to prove next season. Last season was a major disappointment for our current defensive core. They will certainly have a lot to prove this year, but expectations will be even higher. With less depth upfront, the defense will be called upon to not only step up defensively, but offensively too. Finding the balance between contributing both upfront and at the back will be key. If the Panthers are to have any success next year, it must come from the back line.

Overall, many don’t have the Cats making the postseason because of how young we are. I myself also don’t fancy our chances either. However, before jumping to conclusions I think it would be best if we see how the young core cope with handling the added pressure.