Hockey

Florida Panthers Season Preview

(Photo by Miami Herald)

The Florida Panthers saw a first round exit against the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. Returning to the playoffs after a five year hiatus, finishing second in the Central Division. Joel Quenneville looks to lead them to further success in his first full season as the head coach. 

The Lines

According to Daily Faceoff, these are the current Panthers lines for the 2021-2022 season. Joe Thornton signed as a free agent mid August. He’ll be slotted in at the third or fourth line center. 

First line – Carter Verhaeghe , Aleksander Barkov, Sam Reinhart 

Second line – Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Bennet, Anthony Duclair 

Third line – Frank Vatrano, Anton Lundell, Owen Tippet

Fourth line – Mason Marchment, Noel Acciari, Patric Hornqvist 

Sam Reinhart inked a three year deal in the off season, playing right wing alongside Barkov and Verhaeghe. Verhaeghe extended his contract three years, scoring pivotal goals for the panthers. Reinhart has the versatility of the center position as well, filling that role for Jack Eichel in Buffalo. Huberdeau’s speed allows Bennet and Duclair to elevate their play. Bennet rediscovered his confidence after joining the Panthers. Producing points in every game but two after joining the team. The third and fourth lines can generate offensive opportunities with their gritty play. 

The Defense

There are no changes to the defensive pairings for the Panthers from last season.

Mackenzie Weeger and Aaron Ekblad

Markus Nutivaara and Brandon Montour

Gustav Forsling and Radko Gudas 

Goalies: Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight 

Mackenzie Weegar exploded on offense last season. Nearly doubled his point production all time, in one season. Ekblad was sidelined in the postseason after suffering an injury in March. With his return and Weegars’ game elevated, the number one d pair pose a big threat. The other pairings balance one another out, with grit and scoring chances. Shutting down in the defensive zone.

The starting goalie for the Panthers has yet to be made. Bobrovsky played himself out of the role in the playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Knight posted a .933 save percentage after taking over the net. With the small sample size of Knights play, his future looks promising. The Florida Panthers goalie will be a two time Vezina winner or a youthful stud looking to make his own legacy. 

The Florida Panthers have both youthful and veteran presence for the 2021-22 season. The return of their number one defensemen and a promising new goalie prospect gives them another edge. The simple changes and returns to the lineup makes their team have depth. Keep the Panthers on radar, they could be a sneaky good team. 

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