This article will finish the series on previews the Eastern Conference. Today, we’ll look at the Southeast Division. Like the previous articles, we’ll go in the opposite order of where I think the teams will place.
As a quick aside, if you haven’t already, make sure you check out AJ’s article on the Pacific Division.
Well, the Panthers spent a lot of money this offseason, but not necessarily because they wanted to. Florida is like J.G. Wentworth: but instead of creepy people singing opera about wanting to get rid of an annuity, the Panthers’ commercial features Stan Bowman singing “I have o’erpaid players and I need cap space now!”
Because of the cap floor, teams like the Panthers usually have to do some spending in the offseason just to stay legal. And because of that, they overpaid for just about every player they signed and the players they traded for were overpaid already.
If the NHL instituted a rule that eliminated all first lines on each team, the Panthers might end up as one of the elite teams in the league. For all of the spending that they did, they didn’t really get anyone that would put them over the top, especially at the forward position. I guess Tomas Fleischmann headlines the group of newcomers, but that’s mostly because he’s the highest paid forward on the team, scheduled to make $18 million over the next four years. His career high in goals is 23 and seemed like he was given new life when he was traded to Colorado as he put up 21 points in 22 games. However, he was then diagnosed with a blood clot and had to end his season early. I wouldn’t expect the same type of production in Florida—he had a whole lot better of a supporting cast with the Avalanche.
Other new forwards include Scottie Upshall ($3.5 million cap hit), Kris Versteeg ($3.083 million), Tomas Kopecky ($3 million), and Sean Bergenheim ($2.75 million). That’s a lot to pay for a mixed bag of second and third line players. I’ve been waiting for “franchise” center Stephen Weiss to have a breakout year, but at this point, I don’t think it’s coming. And that will especially be the case if David Booth never returns to the form that he had before he suffered his severe concussion. The Panthers will score some goals, but they don’t have anyone (and especially not a line) that can throw the rest of the team on his back for awhile. But who knows, if you throw enough mud, some is bound to stick to the wall.
Get the rest here.
Or get it here if CBS messes up the link again...