Florida Panthers: Moving on From the 2018-19 Season

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 25: John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with teammates Mitch Marner #16, Morgan Rielly #44, Nazem Kadri #43 and Auston Matthews #34 during the first period at the Scotiabank Arena on March 25, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 25: John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with teammates Mitch Marner #16, Morgan Rielly #44, Nazem Kadri #43 and Auston Matthews #34 during the first period at the Scotiabank Arena on March 25, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Now that it’s mathematically impossible to make the playoffs, it’s time for the Florida Panthers to move on from this season.

For the last twenty-five years, the hope has been to bring a winning hockey team to South Florida. Now that a quarter of a century has passed, the state has expected to see a winner on the ice.

From what has transpired, nothing near that has occurred, and the Florida Panthers have remained out of a chance at a championship once again.

The difference is, this team was destined to turn the organization around this season, based on the year before.

Last season, the Panthers exemplified tremendous hope for the state of Florida, as they finished with 96 points, the most by a team in the NHL to finish a season without making the playoffs.

After such a magnificent run, it was deemed that they were almost guaranteed to be a playoff team.

While everything seemed to be the same as the year before, there were two things that stuck out of why the team was now ready to take the next step.

Obviously, the acquisition of the great goal scorer Mike Hoffman was supposed to be the clinching factor in the team playing in the postseason.

Even though it’s a quieter difference, another reason why the team would make the playoffs is that they were going to enter the second year of the system provided by the head coach: Bob Boughner.

When a team gets a new staff behind the bench, they usually take at least twenty games to readjust to a new way to play. Now that there’s no more adjustment period needed by the team, it was time to put that system into full swing.

However, things didn’t play out as they were supposed to for the Cats. After a terrible start and a combination of injured players, the Panthers will miss the playoffs for the third season in a row.

While this is extremely disappointing, it’s time to think about how to fix the current issues in place. I guess the main question is: where do the Florida Panthers go from here?

There are a few problems that need to be addressed in the summertime in order to get this team back on track. If they’re not taken care of, many jobs can (and will) be on the line for the organization. It all starts in the front office to take care of this team in limbo.

To start, if anything is done in the offseason, the Panthers need a new body behind the bench to man the ship.

After 26 blown leads and counting from this season, there is something clearly wrong with the mental state of the team.

The bottom line is, the Panthers need a veteran mind to take the lead. If it’s going to be anyone, it has to be the former head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks: Joel Quenneville.

Since Boughner was only an assistant coach for a short period of time in San Jose, it was clear that he wasn’t ready to lead a young team into the sunset.

To make the move easier, Quenneville has a relationship with Panthers GM Dale Tallon, as they worked together to form a dynasty in Chicago.

What this still learning squad needs is an experienced mind to get them to where they need to be. Plus, what could be better than having a three-time Stanley Cup champion lead the way?

Nothing is the correct answer, meaning that a coaching change is desperately needed in order to give this team any success.

Additionally, it’s true that the team is loaded up on offense, so goal scoring is the least of their concerns.

Back to the coaching, the defensive play is what is needing a tune-up for the next season. In order for this to be enforced, the Cats need a solid defenseman to help man the blue line.

The guy they need has to be a smart, powerful, puck-moving d-man to make the back-end look more intimidating.

If it has to be anyone, the best example of this type of guy has to be a Tyler Myers kind of guy. He is a huge player who has a brain on defense that could help any defense. Even if they don’t get Myers specifically, this is the kind of defenseman they need to help their roster.

Moreover, another issue that has to be solved during this offseason is what’s going on in between the pipes.

Going into this season, the goaltending tandem was Roberto Luongo and James Reimer, a combination that should be abandoned going into next season because of two guys: Sam Montembeault and Sergei Bobrovsky.

For the veteran Bob, this is a guy known to most as one of the best goaltenders in the world. He will be a free agent this summer and the Cats have a large amount of cap space that gives him the chance to sign in Florida.

If he is signed, the Panthers have a starting goalie for a three to four-year period, to come in and give them a chance to win a Stanley Cup.

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For the rookie Sam, he is sort of like the Carter Hart of the organization, a guy who’s a young goalie who could possibly be the goalie of the future for his team.

While he’s sort of proved it so far, it seems that he will not be ready to take on such a commitment next season.

In my opinion, the starter should be Bobrovsky with Montembeault backing him up. That combo should give the Panthers the best chance to make it back to the playoffs.

Last but not least, if there’s anything the team can control to help their playoff chances next year, it has to be their start.

Last year, it seemed as if they didn’t start playing competitively until the All-Star break. They followed it with the second best record in the NHL in that span, only trailing the Nashville Predators.

The following year was no different. The Cats once again had a terrible start to the season, putting themselves outside the playoff picture early on.

But unlike the year before, there was no competitive play. Even though the season hasn’t ended yet, it’s clear that the Panthers have played like an AHL team, and have also checked out entirely.

What they need next year is a start that can give them a shot at taking the next step at playing in the postseason. Falling behind the eight ball early on is what has killed them these past two seasons.

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In brief, the Florida Panthers’ 2018-19 season was a complete disaster in terms of what they set out to do. They missed the playoffs for a third consecutive year and it’s clear that what they have now is not working. In order to get back on the right track, they need to move on and think about what they can do to turn their fortunes around.