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.
Gone – Connor Brickley, Harri Sateri, Radim Vrbata
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 asked for and was granted permission to return to the Swedish Elite League. Once there he tallied seven points in five games. The 24-year-old will get another kick at the can this fall. This time when he goes to the AHL the expectation is that he will be given top six minutes, or the Panthers will lose him for good. He could be a dark horse second-half guy. (Read Haapala's scouting report here)
Maxim Mamin played 26 games on the wing for Florida last season and did not look out of place. He had 25 points in 32 games for Springfield. He projects to be a solid third-line player with a bit of fantasy upside, and he has a strong chance of breaking camp with the Panthers. (Read Mamin's scouting report here)
I know a lot of fantasy owners have high expectations for Owen Tippett, who was drafted 10th overall last summer and actually made the team last October. But I don’t think he is ready and the Panthers are a deeper team now. He’ll return to the OHL and probably embarrass the league with his production as he doesn’t turn 20 until February. He may play a handful of games for the Panthers to start the year, though. (Read Tippett's scouting report here)
Florida Panthers prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – As a team, the Panthers underachieved last season. But a surge in the second half provides hope. Aleksander Barkov has emerged as an elite player capable of not only posting a point-per-game, but of dragging his linemates along with him (Evgenii Dadonov had 44 points in 43 games in the second half playing with him). I feel good about this team scoring 260 goals this year, which puts them close to the Top 10. Florida also boasts three high-upside defensemen in Keith Yandle, Aaron Ekblad and Mike Matheson, and in the system they have several very good forwards on the way. The pipeline is weak in terms of defensemen, and overall their goaltending is injury prone and just generally suspect. But from a fantasy standpoint, there are 10 or 12 very good short- and long-term options and I would feel okay about one of my players being traded there.
Fantasy Grade: B (last year was B)
Other Fantasy Grades:
- Ramblings: Revisiting Goalie Situations in Pittsburgh, Arizona, and Columbus (Jan 24)
- Ramblings: Cholowski recalled; Koivu returns; looking back on preseason thoughts - January 23
- Forum Buzz: Nylander or DeBrincat, Hold or Sell Huberdeau, Can Trocheck Rebound?
- Injury Ward: Updates on Rask, Hamilton, Panarin, Tarasenko, and more
- Ramblings: Skills Competition, Questions on Hughes vs. Dahlin, Hintz, Gibson (Jan 25)
- Looking Ahead: Danault, Habs Worth Targeting
- Capped: All-Star cap league team
- Frozen Tools Forensics: Malkin and the Giant IPPeach