Friday, April 27, 2012

2011/12 Florida Panthers R.I.P

They were lucky to even make the playoffs, much less advance to the second round. The Florida Panthers squandered a 3-2 series lead to lose in game 7 overtime against the New Jersey Devils; but honestly Florida this was the high end of what you could have expected a year ago. Bergenheim was the reason that it went to seven games and was the series MVP for the Panthers. Weiss, Versteeg, Goc, Campbell, Samuelsson tied for 2nd in team scoring with 5 PTS a piece. Their goaltending was average, but they proved able to battle back from behind to win on multiple occasions.

Tomas Fleischmann was pricey at $4.5M, but he earned his salary. Kris Versteeg might have been their best acquisition, scooped up as Philly was clearing room for Mr Universe. Stephen Weiss is a very useful player, and it was nice to see him finally get to play in a playoff game (unlike his former teammate Bouwmeester, who is the active leader in career games played without playing in playoffs). Sean Bergenheim is a bargain at $2.75M, even if he does save his best for the post season. Samuelsson and Sturm are UFAs, but while Mikael still has some gas in the tank, Marco is pretty much done. Sturm was done last year, but Gillis made a bad buy, his top free agent acquisition.

Brian Campbell was a huge boost to this roster, but he doesn't come cheap. At the very least he's played his way off of my NHL worst contracts list, but teammate Ed Jovanovski may have played his way onto the 2012 list. $4.25M for 3 more years, a 36 year old with a lot of hard miles on the odometer, 63 GP, 13 PTS, -11, 16 minutes per game does not a $4M player make. Even if the journeyman retires, he signed at 35+ so the cap hit continues even if he retires (though that's not money out the door, and helps this financially troubled franchise hug the floor).

Jakub Markstrom is their future in net, so Clemmenson (UFA) will likely be allowed to walk. Theodore has 1 more year at $1.5M, a very fair price, and should split duties with Markstrom next season. Many pundits have reported that the Panthers system is stocked with some high end young prospects, which will form a solid foundation for the Quebec Nordiques for many years. "If you build it, they will come..."

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