Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Florida Panthers
For the last 15 years (12 with The Hockey News, last year’s via pinch-hitter Cam Robinson) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 16th 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.
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Gone – Connor Brickley, Harri Sateri, Radim Vrbata
Incoming – Michael Hutchinson, Mike Hoffman
Impact of changes – Not much was changed in the offseason, but the two changes the Panthers did make were each important. Both James Reimer and Roberto Luongo are prone to injury, so landing an experienced and solid No.3 goaltender in Hutchinson really covers them off. And this team also tended to struggle beyond the first line. Adding Hoffman really shores up that second line and gives the Panthers a powerful one-two punch. That will help everyone in the top six, as well as the main four defensemen. They also have Mark Letestu coming in on a tryout contract, and the 33-year-old adds experience, checking ability and can contribute to the second power-play unit. Look for him to earn the one-way contract that he seeks. Florida scored 248 goals last season and stand to hit 260 or more in the year ahead.
Ready for full-time – Henrik Borgstrom is one of the top prospects in hockey and he’s been sitting among the DobberHockey Top 3 on the Fantasy Prospects list for months now. He didn’t look out of place on the Panthers to end the year last season. The big 6-3 center slots in perfectly on the third line and gives the Panthers yet another element of attack. Between he and Hoffman, the Panthers now have options and the opposition is no longer able to key in on one line. Borgstrom is unlikely to win the Calder Trophy this season, but he’s almost certainly going to be in the discussion. (Read Borgstrom's scouting report here)
Henrik Haapala is a small, skilled player that NHL teams coveted last season as an undrafted free agent. The Panthers got him, but he didn’t make the team, though he made a good impression. In Springfield, however, he had a difficult start and as a result he was given terrible minutes and multiple healthy scratches. When he was called up for five games, he looked okay but just needed seasoning. He wasn’t getting that in Springfield so he