For a franchise that had a season to forget, this was the year of Jon Huberdeau, the one light that shined bright for the Panthers in 2013. Goaltender of the future Jakob Markstrom played 23 games and put up a less than impressive 3.22 GAA and .901 SvPct. Some of that may be attributable to the poor defensive play of the team in front of him, and we should expect better numbers going forward now that he has established himself as a NHL goaltender (assuming that defensive play in front of him improves). The team would be advised to let Jose Theodore walk via free agency this summer, given that Scott Clemenson is under contract for one more season. It's time to let Markstrom stay on the big league roster.
They did have some major injuries, with Stephen Weiss playing just 17 GP, and Versteeg playing just 10. However it is tough to blame this terrible season on injuries, considering the team sucked while those players were healthy. What they lost was the ability to sell some key rental players at the trade deadline, like Jose Theodore (assuming any team would have wanted Theodore had he managed to stay healthy).
Preseason Rank: 24
Midseason Rank: 30
Final Rank: 30
GM Grade: F
1st Star: Tomas Fleischmann
2nd Star: Jon Huberdeau
3rd Star: Brian Campbell
UFAs: Stephen Weiss, Eric Selleck, Tyson Strachan, Jose Theodore, Alex Kovalev
RFAs: Jacob Markstrom, TJ Brennan, Peter Mueller, Shawn Matthias, Jack Skille
Best Contract: Tomas Kopecky 2 more years at $3M
Worst Contract: Ed Jovanovski 2 more years at $4.125M
What I said about them in preseason: They made the playoffs last season and I declared them the worst team to make the playoffs. Are they any better? It depends how quickly their young stars start contributing to playoff worthy success.
Needless to say, Dale Tallon was not nominated for executive of the year, and has made his nomination last year look like a huge mistake. If you were among the people who bought the hype over Tallon last season, it has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt that you were mistaken, and I question your ability to judge General Managers. When Tallon spent all that money in the summer of 2011, he signed some players to some terrible contracts, like Ed Jovanovski, Scottie Upshall, and Sean Bergenheim. We'll see what he does for an encore in 2013, but this roster is not anywhere close to being the next Chicago Blackhawks.