When the Florida Panthers begin their season in October, they will look for their defense to support their offense and for the goalies to hold down the fort. Will both of these groups be able to contribute at a level that brings this team to the playoffs?
Last offseason, the Panthers decided to move away from a defensive minded group of defensemen to an offensive minded group. They spent money on guys like Keith Yandle and Jason Demers in free agency, plus signed Aaron Ekblad to a mega-deal. While some were a little worried why the Panthers were re-shaping their defensive group, most put away their fears and put their trust in the front office.
The Panthers’ defense had a decent year. Even though they did not produce any top defensive stars, according to NHL.com, Keith Yandle finished #21 out of all defensemen in points. But, besides Yandle, the rest of the group played decent at best as their next top point producing d-man, Jason Demers, finished #57 out of all defensemen in points.
Unlike last year, the Panthers did not add or lose anyone on the defensive side. The Panthers seem committed to making this group of d-men the best that they can be.
Looking at the Panthers’ goalies, both Roberto Luongo and James Reimer struggled to defend the goal effectively. In fact, they both struggled so much that they finished outside the top 30 goalies in the NHL.
Because Luongo is getting older, Reimer will have to step up and be the backup who can win games. Look for Luongo and Reimer to be dual starters with both of them being very close to splitting the 82 games in half.
Let’s examine how the defensemen and goalies’ individual statistics could look like for this upcoming season.