Fantasy Impact: The Florida Panthers have hired Gerard Gallant as their new head coach.
Gallant is a former Red Wings and Lightning player (615 games, 211 goals, 480 points – and 1674 PIM) who played with a lot of grit despite his below-average size. He once had 93 points in 230 PIM in a season! Albeit playing with a 155-point Steve Yzerman, but still…
Gallant had an unsuccessful NHL head coaching stint already, over parts of three seasons with Columbus (2003-2006) and was fired. He became an assistant with the Islanders for a season before taking over as head coach of Saint John (QMJHL). He took that team to the league final all three years he was there, winning two QMJHL championships and one Memorial Cup – as well as the CHL’s Coach of the Year in 2010 and 2011. For the last two seasons he was an assistant coach with the Habs – a team that surprised many by going a lot further than expected.
Now, with a lot more experience (and success) under his belt, he’s taking a young and rebuilding Panthers’ team that is looking at a couple of losing seasons right off the bat.
During his years with Saint John, Gallant had the pleasure of coaching some very exciting offensive players, including a fellow he’ll be coaching once again – Jonathan Huberdeau. He let go of the reins and let his players play hard and create offensively, which may be a good thing in the season ahead when it comes to fantasy hockey. With Columbus, Gallant coached three players with 54 points or more (David Vyborny, Rick Nash, Nik Zherdev) as well as an aging Sergei Fedorov who had 43 points in 62 games.
The first season and a half that Gallant was coach, Vyborny put up the best numbers of his career. That 54-point season for Nash was one of just two times in his entire career that he posted a point per game (he played just 54 games). Fedorov played another four seasons in the league, but never again reached 43 points.
It really does look promising for owners of Florida players, as this was a team without a 40-point player last year. This is going to boost the players with the most offensive potential – and possibly hurt some of the veterans with less of an upside who had been leaned upon in 2013-14 (ahem – Scottie Upshall). Goaltending could be in trouble – Roberto Luongo will be reminded of the NHL-record shot total he was facing back in his first stint with the Panthers! Is that good or bad? Depends on the categories for goalies your league has set up.
Fantasy Players this helps, in order:
2. Tomas Fleischmann, Nick Bjugstad, Aleksande