We are 16 days away from the start of the NHL season. The scheduling of your Fantasy Hockey drafts have begun. The DraftKit is on sale and it is time to start previewing the 2016-17 NHL season.
I will be previewing two teams every day and each preview will consist of: Projected Line Combinations, a breakdown of each team’s top Fantasy assets, a look at their goaltending situation and 2016-17 NHL Standings projection.
If you don’t want to wait for the previews, buy our 2016-17 DraftKit—which has previews for every team as well as projections for over 300 players and goalies. You will get rankings and projections on here over the next few weeks, but why wait, when you can get it all right now for just $4.95?
Let’s take a look at the Florida Panthers.
|Keith Yandle – D – (from NYR)||Brian Campbell – D – (to CHI)|
|James Reimer – G – (from SJS)||Erik Gudbranson – D – (to VAN)|
|Jason Demers – D – (from DAL)||Dmitry Kulikov – D – (to BUF)|
|Jared McCann – C – (from VAN)||Al Montoya – G – (to MTL)|
|Mark Pysyk – D- (from BUF)||Teddy Purcell – RW – (to LAK)|
By: Michael Bondy (@)
The Florida Panthers come into the 2016-17 with a brand new set of jerseys, as well as a new standard for success. One of the heaviest hitters in offseason free agency, the Panthers signed a duo of big-name blueliners in Keith Yandle and Jason Demers. The Panthers will be looking to build upon a year which saw them crack the 100-point plateau for the first time in Franchise history. A solid, well rounded lineup filled with both veterans and young talent has the Panthers ready to challenge last year’s franchise record 47-win season.
The ageless Jaromir Jagr continues to turn the clock backwards as he returns for his 23rd NHL season at the ripe age of 44 and just 19 points short of Mark Messier for 2nd all time in NHL scoring. Jagr will line up next to familiar linemates in young stars Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. Both Barkov (28G / 31A) and Huberdeau (20 G / 39 A) took massive leaps forward in the 2015-16 season and will hope to continue to lead the Panthers to the promise land as they continue to trend towards stardom. The Panthers ensemble of young talent also includes 2015-16 breakout centre Vincent Trocheck, who will look to add to an impressive 53-point season. Trocheck is expected to line up next to the same pairing from last year’s successful campaign, Reilly Smith and Jussi Jokinen. The Panthers bottom-6 forwards will be rounded out by sleeper candidate and off season acquisition Jared McCann (No.24 pick in 2014), Nick Bjustad, Logan Shaw and a few other hopefuls. The mix of young talent and veterans will once again look to be a successful formula for the Panthers.
As mentioned the Panthers forked out a good chunk of money to continue to add to their solid core. The majority of these funds were used to improve their young blueline. Keith Yandle was brought in through a trade-and-sign with the New York Rangers (7 years, $44.45 million) and will automatically step into key minutes on the top-pair with 20-year-old stud, Aaron Ekblad. Yandle’s 47.3 average points per year since 2010 bode well for the young Ekblad who will be looking to make the jump to a truly elite No.1 fantasy hockey defenseman. Ekblad comes into 2016-17 hoping he can crack the 40 point plateau for the first time in his career. The Panthers other offseason addition, Jason Demers (5 years, $22.5 million) will likely suit up for their second pairing next to an inexperienced college standout in Michael Matheson. The 22-year-old is considered a young sleeper candidate this season as he could start the year in an expanded top-4 role. The defense is rounded out by a third offseason addition in shut down defenseman Mark Pysyk who is expected to lineup next to Alex Petrovic completing an overall solid top 6 crew.
One of the most underrated offseason acquisitions across the NHL comes in the form of a goaltender that may not even see 40 starts this season. The Panthers spent a very cap friendly $3.4 million per year to acquire backup goaltender James Reimer to handcuff their very reliable, yet aging 37-year-old starter Roberto Luongo. After strapping on the pads for an amazing 60 starts in the 2015-16 regular season, (66 including playoffs) Luongo seemed to slow down as the long year started to wear on his veteran body. Regardless he posted a very respectable .922 save percentage (SV%) on way to an impressive 35-win season. Luongo will look to lead the Panthers yet into the playoffs for the second straight season, but should do so with a much more reasonable 52-30 start with Reimer. Both goalies finished in the top-10 in SV% a year ago and should be a very solid, steady tandem.
The Panthers look better than ever coming into the 2016-17 season with no glaring weaknesses and a team filled with both solid veterans as well as budding superstars. The well rounded lineup will look to yet again be a major force in weak Atlantic Division as they hope for their second Division title in as many years. With an improved blueline and crease, they may truly be a Stanley Cup contender in 2016-17 and many years to come. Keep an eye on this exciting Panthers team!
Panthers in the DFO Top 275:
- 57. Aleksander Barkov – C
- 89. Keith Yandle – D
- 97. Roberto Luongo – G
- 101. Aaron Ekblad – D
- 108. Jonathan Huberdeau – LW
- 113. Jaromir Jagr – RW
- 126. Reilly Smith – RW
- 172. Vincent Trocheck – C
- 179. Jussi Jokinen – LW
- 205. Nick Bjugstad – C
- 220. James Reimer – G
2016-17 Season Projection:
The Panthers are coming off of a season where they finished in the top-10 in both goals against (7th) and goals for (8th) and should be found there again this season. They are certainly a favourite to make the playoffs but will be locked in a heated battle with the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning for Atlantic Division supremacy.