Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Optimism in South FLA

Believe it or not, the Florida Panthers may actually compete next year.

Without leading scorer Olli Jokinen, the Panthers may actually end up with a better team next season. After the trade to Phoenix, many fans said it would take a huge free agent signing to bring optimism back to Florida.

Enter Cory Stillman. While Stillman isn't a superstar, he brings many things to the table that Jokinen couldn't. Stillman is a leader, with multiple Stanley Cup victory experience, and doesn't give up much in terms of scoring. He will put up close to the same amount of points Jokinen will, plus he's a team player.

Even though I would have loved one more free agent signing, the Panthers may actually be in decent shape. Atlanta is reeling, losing Bobby Holik, and not being able to acquire someone to replace the loss of Marian Hossa. Rob Hainsey is all they have to show from free agency thus far.
Carolina has picked up some talent on defense finally, but at the expense of Panthers-killer Erik Cole. Washington swapped Cristobal Huet for Jose Theodore, a downgrade in my eyes, while the Lightning have given a whole new meaning to the term the best defense is a good offense.

The Panthers clearly have the best goaltender in the division, and the best defense now as well. Throw in an offense that will now suffice with Stillman, plus the potential of the young guns, and Florida has to have a chance in the Southeast Division this year. Oh, and having a hard working, motivating coach can't hurt either.

Unlike any season in recent memory, I see reason for optimism in South Florida. Even if it is just July.


Stanley C. said...

So true. I don't know if I've felt this way about the Panthers pre-season before. Certainly not in recent memory. Come on October!

FloridaPanthers4ever said...

I dono what to think. I see this team going both ways. It really depends on how the new guys do and how well the offense can get on a roll.

50/50 for me.