Thursday, August 21, 2008

NHL Four-cast: Florida Panthers

1 - Why is this team worth watching? Did you ever wonder what it was like during Custer's Last Stand? You can see the hockey version of it in Florida where Tomas Vokoun stands alone amid attackers from all sides. Some of the greatest goaltending I have ever seen was by Curtis Joseph on a beleaguered St. Louis squad back in the early '90s; you can expect some marvelous displays by Vokoun this season.

2 - Are they better or worse than last year? Worse. They gave away their captain and leading scorer for two mediocre defensemen and a draft pick. They replaced his offensive output with Cory Stillman, who was -8 in 24 games with Ottawa, something that extrapolates to -30 or so when you consider he will be with Florida this coming season.

3 - Who should YOU draft in fantasy? Vokoun is the only fantasy stud guarantee. Even on a team as poor as the Panthers, he will get some wins and will have a fantastic save percentage. As I mentioned, they added more defensemen so his g.a.a. should improve from last season's 2.68. Jay Bouwmeester has something to prove as he plays for his next contract outside of Florida so I would say he is good for 45 points. Also, the Panthers may deal him so he may end up in a better place where he can get better numbers after the deadline. David Booth/Stephen Weiss/Nathan Horton will be the team's first line and will play in all situations so they should be able to pick up 55-65 points each. If Cory Murphy can stay healthy, he will be a power play point machine - he played just 47 games and had 17 points, 12 of which came with the man advantage.

4 - What city should the Panthers move to? Hamilton, Ontario. They aren't flashy enough for Vegas and don't have any marquee names. They don't have the work ethic that Kansas City would appreciate. They are fast enough for Quebec but don't play the beautiful game that old Nords fans remember from the days of Goulet. They aren't the Coyotes so they shouldn't go to Winnipeg (the Manitoba folks deserve their team back). So that leaves Hamilton. The folks there were willing to take the Preds when Vokoun was the backbone of that team, so they would be willing to take the Panthers. And they would probably help make Horton and Bouwmeester into the superstars that they can be.

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