The Florida Panthers narrowly missed the playoffs in 2018. They were short only a point to secure the second wild card seed. However, this season could be different. The red hot Panthers finished the season off strong, and are good candidates to make the postseason this year.
Florida made a fairly big move in acquiring winger Mike Hoffman from the San Jose Sharks. In doing so, they gave San Jose a fourth- and fifth-round pick in 2018, as well as a second-round pick in 2019.
Subtractions: Matt Bartkowski-D
None of Florida’s big names are due for contract extension.
Alexsander Barkov (cover photo) is long due for recognition from the league. The Panthers think so, too, because he was named team captain on Sept. 17. Rookie Owen Tippett played seven games last season. He is a strong candidate for a breakout year.
What to Expect
Florida has a talented young group. Additionally, the Panthers’ corps has had a full year to learn head coach Bob Boughner’s system. Making the playoffs shouldn’t be an unrealistic expectation for Florida. However, a lot of things will still need to go right.
Playing against division titans like the Lightning and Maple Leafs is tough. It seems like those two are locks to secure the first two playoff spots. However, everything after that will be fair game. The Panthers have a good shot at a 3rd seed or at least a wild card spot.
If goaltender Roberto Luongo can stay healthy, and if the defense improves, this team could certainly find itself in the postseason.
Cover Photo: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Clay Goupil follows the Tampa Bay Lightning and Atlantic Division for Full Press Coverage.