Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Florida Panthers
For the last 12 years over at The Hockey News, I have reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them. Now that I am no longer with THN, my 13th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – The main impact is addition by subtraction. Remember, that in the summer of 2014 the Panthers signed 100 players (approximate value). They filled the roster with so many bodies that I think some of the players were working the hot dog stands because there wasn't room in the press box. Anyway, a lot of those bodies are gone now. Out of the way. So now, talented players like Brandon Pirri can suddenly get into every game and actually see some ice time.
Ready for full-time – Rocco Grimaldi surprised me a year ago when he showed that he was close to NHL readiness. I had thought he was still a good two years away. He got into seven NHL games at different times throughout the year, and made a big splash in the AHL with 42 points in 64 games. I have him making the Panthers this year and getting at least 30 points.
It's clear at this point that left wing Quinton Howden is likely a bottom-six guy. The 25th overall pick from 2010 has apprenticed long enough in San Antonio. He can kill penalties and defend with the big club – but no fantasy value.
Mike Matheson is one of the better prospect defensemen to own in fantasy hockey. He's still probably a year away, but he's only played pro hockey for all of five games so who knows? A strong camp would certainly get him on the big club. He was the 23rd overall pick in 2012 so the team obviously has high hopes and will give him every opportunity.
Fantasy Outlook – Now that the Panthers are focusing on building from within, and using some of the talented young players in key roles, the team is more appealing to fantasy owners. Jonathan Huberdeau (entering his fourth year), Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad and Aaron Ekblad are all blue-chippers with high upside. And Brandon Pirri and Vincent Trocheck also have quite a bit to give. But there probably won't be any top scorers on this team in 2015-16. They're not there yet. And the prospect pipeline is mediocre – most of the youngsters are already on the team.
Fantasy Grade: C (last year was D)