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Offseason Outlook: Florida Panthers

2019-07-09

2018-19 Grade: F (Last year: F)

The Panthers struggled through another painful rebuild year in 2018-19. Still without their own first-round pick, Florida managed to obtain 10th overall before flipping the pick for two later 1st round picks in what turned out to be a very deep draft. Still in full-rebuild mode, Florida took big strides in securing a competitive future.

Studs:

Once again, no player deserved mentioning in this category. If not for the Red Wings, the Panthers would have set a record for worst season in DCHL history.

Duds:

Worst. Season. In. DCHL. History.

Keys to Success:

1.    Collect draft picks

This has not changed for the Panthers. Once again without their own 1st in 2020, and looking at another likely bottom-5 finish, the Panthers best bet would be to find a way to reobtain their own 1stround pick.

2.    Patience

Like the Red Wings, the Panthers are going to be bad for the next few years. The Panthers second-year GM is doing his best to mend the damage done by previous management, but the process has been slow and painful to watch. From the looks of it, it’ll be a few years before this changes.

3.    Keep trusting the process

Florida has begun to collect some talent that should start transitioning to the NHL soon. If the Panthers can continue to make quality draft picks and collect young talent, they could return to playoff contention in one or two more seasons.

Top 3 Prospects:

Cody Glass – Cody Glass might be the most important player in the Florida Panthers’ system. Glass made his pro debut with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, and his scoring talent was immediately apparent. However talented he is, Glass’ path in the NHL is blocked by Paul Stastny and William Karlsson. Projected DCHL Arrival: 2020-21

Juuso Valimaki – Valimaki appeared in 24 games in the NHL for the Calgary Flames this season and is highly touted to be the heir apparent to run the Flames’ PP1. Valimaki had a goal and 3 points while playing for the big club, while registering 4 goals and 14 points in 20 AHL contests. Projected DCHL Arrival: 2021-22

K’Andre Miller – Taken 22nd overall by the New York Rangers in the 2018 NHL draft, Miller projects to be the answer Florida needs on the blue line. Along with Cody Glass, Miller provides Florida with a player to build around for years to come. Projected DCHL Arrival: 2021-22

2019-20 Outlook:

Florida took a few steps forward this year,but doesn’t project to be competitive for a few seasons still. With players like Glass, Miller, Thomson, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, and Philip Tomasino on the way, the Panthers have a foundation to build around. Until these players are capable of making an impact in the DCHL, however, Florida should get used to picking in the top-5 (when they keep their own pick, that is).