When the gates opened on unrestricted free agency this summer, few guys were more active than Panthers’ GM Dale Tallon. With a boatload of cap space to play with, Tallon made a number of players far wealthier than they could have ever imagined, and in doing so, gave the Panthers a very deep, if somewhat superstar-less roster. The one player he couldn’t keep though, may have been a crucial loss, as Tomas Vokoun left the club to join their Southeast Division rivals up in Washington. Sean Bergenheim, Tomas Fleischmann, Tomas Kopecky, Matt Bradley, Marcel Goc, Scottie Upshall, Kris Versteeg, Ed Jovanoski and Brian Campbell are all solid players, but not exactly the type of players that you normally see on a team’s top line.
Our fearless leader here at FanSided’s NHL network, Frank Rekas, has more on the players that all the above-mentioned guys will be joining in sunny Miami.
As for returning players of note, David Booth, Stephen Weiss and Mike Santorelli should be primed for their biggest seasons to date. Weiss has been here his entire career as has Booth, while Mike Santorelli was given a chance to shine in his first full year in 2010-2011, and he did. Defensively Dmitry Kulikov and Jason Garrison had decent years and will be expected to improve, while Keaton Ellerby looks to be in the top six after a solid showing at the end of the season. Mike Weaver, steady and virtually mistake free is potentially the odd man out. Size and the emergence of Erik Gudbranson could push Weaver to a seventh defenceman position. While I know nothing that tells me this, it’s pure speculation on my part.
Read the rest of his preview here.