There’s always a new movement afoot with the Panthers, and this year is no different. Gone is defensive stalwart Keith Ballard, and so is 60-point man Nathan Horton.
Instead, the Panthers will try to get by on a bunch of young players, unknowns, and castoffs from other teams.
That’s generally not a winning formula.
Best offseason move: Making smart trades to get draft picks and good prospects. Over the course of five days in June, the Panthers made four moves. The traded guys like Nathan Horton, Keith Ballard and Gregory Campbell, and in return they received first round draft picks, Dennis Wideman and Michael Grabner. Grabner will be the steal of all these deals, scoring 11 points in 20 games last year in Vancouver. As a member of the Panthers, he’ll get the opportunity to play on the top two lines. (Update: The Panthers tried to send him to the minors, so the Islanders grabbed Grabner off waivers.)
Worst offseason move: Signing Christopher Higgins. Have people not been listening to me? Higgins has been the most overrated player in the last 30 years of the Habs franchise. He scored all those goals in Montreal because he got top-line minutes, all the time. He’ll be a bust in Florida.
Dark horse trophy candidate: Tomas Vokoun for the Vezina.
Pool pick: Michael Frolik. A third-year player, Frolik put up back-to-back 40-point seasons in his first two years in the league. He should get a chance to improve on those numbers this year. Who to stay away from: David Booth. I know he’s normally a 60-point guy. But when a player misses a whole season because of a concussion, he can’t be far away from more concussions.
Best hall of fame choice: Tomas Vokoun? Probably the best bet, but he has no shot. He’s 34, and even having a career year last year, only put up 23 wins. He has 240 wins, but 239 losses. Even if he stays the number one goalie for the next six years, he still won’t crack 400 wins.
Blog to follow: Litter Box Cats
My Prediction: Fifth in the Southeast, 15th in the East
Famous celebrity from that city: Eva Mendes