Previewing the East: Florida
Panthers hope UFA signings can bring a winning culture to South Florida
Sure you are.
The Red Wings don’t open training camp until Sept. 19 in Traverse City, but over the next eight weeks DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose will preview the 15 teams in the Eastern Conference, including the Red Wings’ Atlantic Division rivals in Boston, Tampa Bay, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Florida and Buffalo. This week it's the Florida Panthers:
Coach: Gerard Gallant
Last Year: 29-45-8, 66 points (15th in Eastern Conference)
Detroit vs. Panthers: 2-1-2
5-on-5 Goals: 147 (ninth in Eastern Conference)
Power Play Efficiency: 27-for-269, 10 percent (16th in Eastern Conference)
|2013-14 Stats||Vs. Red Wings|
|IN THE CREASE|
|vs. Red Wings|
Regular-Season Games vs. Red Wings: Dec. 2 (at DET); Dec. 12 (at DET); Jan. 27 (at FLA); Mar. 19 (at FLA).
ARRIVALS: Forwards Jussi Jokinen, Dave Bolland, Shawn Thornton, Derek MacKenzie, defenseman Willie Mitchell, and goalie Al Montoya.
DEPARTURES: Forwards Scott Gomez, Krystofer Barch and Jesse Winchester, defensemen Ed Jovanovski and Tom Gilbert, and goalie Scott Clemmensen.
SEASON SCOPE: Everybody gets overpaid in free agency and the Panthers weren’t bashful when it came to opening the checkbook to sign UFA centers Dave Bolland and Jussi Jokinen. Both veterans have been around winning organizations in the past – Bolland has two Stanley Cup rings with Chicago – and they can certainly help change the hockey culture in South Florida. The Panthers have ranked at or near the bottom in league scoring the past two season, so the addition of Jussinen, who is coming off a tremendous season – he produced 21 goals and 57 points in Pittsburgh – should bolster the offense.
In all, the Panthers signed six players on the first day of free agency, including forwards Shawn Thornton and Derek MacKenzie, defenseman Willie Mitchell, and backup goalie Al Montoya. The 37-year-old Mitchell joins a very young, but extremely defensive unit that includes Erik Gudbranson, Dmitry Kulikov, Alex Petrovic and Aaron Ekblad, this year’s No. 1 overall draft pick.
|2014-15 EASTERN CONFERENCE PREVIEWS|
|Atlantic Division||Metropolitan Division|
|Buffalo (July 24)||Carolina (Aug. 7)|
|Boston (sep. 11)||Columbus (Aug. 21)|
|Florida (July 29)||New Jersey (Aug. 14)|
|Montreal (Sep. 2)||NY Islanders (July 31)|
|Ottawa (Aug. 12)||NY Rangers (Aug. 28)|
|Tampa Bay (Sep. 4)||Philadelphia (Aug. 26)|
|Toronto (Aug. 5)||Pittsburgh (sep. 9)|
|Washington (Aug. 19)|