Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Florida Panthers
For the last 14 years (12 with The Hockey News) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
This year, due to Dobber’s battle with cancer, he recruited Cam Robinson (of Frozen Pool Forensics fame) to pinch hit. The 15th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Gone – Jaromir Jagr, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Jussi Jokinen, Shawn Thornton, Michael Sgarbossa, Reto Berra, Kyle Rau, Tim Bozon, Paul Thompson, Brent Regner, Adam Wilcox, Brody Sutter, Colin Steven, Tom Rowe (GM/ Head Coach)
Incoming – Evgeny Dadonov, Radim Vrbata, Henrik Haapala, Harri Sateri, Connor Brickley, Alexandre Grenier, Michael Haley, Curtis Valk, Bob Boughner (Head Coach), Dale Tallon (GM)
Impact of changes – Whew, that’s a lot of talent heading out the door. The Panthers basically allowed 44 percent of their top nine forwards to leave the organization. The most head-scratching of them all was packaging cost-effective, 30-goal scoring, Marchessault up with Smith so that Vegas would take Smith’s five-million-dollar price tag (a deal that Florida had signed just a year earlier). Talk about asset management. Replacing the legendary Jaromir Jagr with Dadonov on the top line should bring some added speed to the unit, but it’s difficult to understand why the Panthers couldn’t use the league’s second highest scoring player in history among their middle six. Vrbata comes over to fill a depth role left open by Jokinen, while Haapala is an intriguing addition after leading the Finnish Liiga in scoring this past season and winning back-to-back titles with Tappara. At age 23, he may need some ice in the AHL, but has sleeper status if he finds a home anywhere near Sasha Barkov.
Ready for full-time – Jared McCann enters the final season of his entry-level deal after taking a winding developmental path. Drafted 24th overall by Vancouver in 2014, the scoring centre returned to Sault Ste. Marie and torched the OHL in his draft-plus one campaign. He cracked the Canucks lineup the following year recording nine goals and 18 points in 69 contests. He was likely a player who needed that pesky NHL-CHL agreement to be tossed aside as the AHL would’ve been best. After a trade to Florida last offseason, McCann got to hone his game in the American League and produced 11 goals and 25 points in 42 games and saw 29 contests with the big club, chipping in a goal and six helpers. He’ll come to camp looking to steal a job on the left-wing as the middle of the ice appears quite full. Read more on McCann here.
Recently drafted top prospect, Owen Tippett, appears to have the green light from management to crack this opening night roster despite being just 18 years old and lacking in some consistency and defensive acumen. What he does bring, are traits that are far more precious than sound defense: speed and goal scoring. Tippett can flat out fly and is the best pure goal scorer from the 2017 crop. His 44 markers in 60 games for Mississauga last season ranked fifth in the league. If Tippett can bring the speed and offensive instincts that have made him a junior star to camp this fall, he should earn at least a nine-game tryout and then the big decisions will have to be made. Read more on Tippett here.
Jayce Hawryluk was a 2014 second-round selection who really needed that fourth campaign in junior to find his footing. In 2015-16, the 5’10 forward led the WHL in assists with 59 to go along with 47 goals in just 58 games. The transition to the professional game came with some hiccups, but he found his footing towards the end of the season and appeared to gain confidence. He’s likely in a camp battle with the aforementioned Tippett for a top nine right-wing job. Read more on Hawryluk here.
Another veteran of professional hockey, Maxim Mamin signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Panthers after recording 42 points in 151 KHL games spread over three seasons. The 22-year-old was a sixth-round selection by the club in 2016 and plays a rugged and robust game built on speed, fore checking and physicality. He’s not afraid to drop the mitts when duty calls either. Mamin is likely to have a bottom six wing spot sewed up with a strong camp.
Fantasy Outlook – The Panthers are a team in flux. There will be noticeable difficulties with such an organizational overhaul – from the bench and front office, to a massive chunk of the team’s forwards. Jonathan Huberdeau is more likely to remain healthy compared to Barkov, so he’ll be the best asset to own. However, Barkov remains a superior talent who just needs to stay on the ice. Trocheck is a sneaky depth add who has shown an ability to get extremely hot, especially when filling in on the top line. Dadonov experienced great success in the KHL last season, but expecting much more than 50 points could be setting up for a disappointment. On the back end, Keith Yandle is due for a bounce-back campaign and push into the 50-point area where’s he’s lived for so long. Aaron Ekblad should find some better luck-based metrics if his volume-shooting ways continue but his pure points ceiling appears limited. In net, we may finally see Roberto Luongo slide back into a 1A/1B role with James Reimer, thus impeding either from true fantasy value. This team has some assets but many question marks.
Fantasy Grade: B (Last year: A-)
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