The rebuilding project is officially underway in Florida. The Panthers have brutal 80/1 Bodog NHL odds to win the Stanley Cup, and even that’s being generous. This is your Florida Panthers 2010-11 preview.
Florida struggled to a second-last-place finish in the Eastern Conference a year ago. Management was very active in the offseason, releasing and adding bodies, but there don’t appear to be many moves that can turn the team’s fortunes.
The Panthers need some goal-scoring help. They ranked 28th in scoring last year and didn’t have a single player surpass 60 points (Stephen Weiss led the way with 28 goals and 60 points). Nathan Horton finished second on the team with 57 points last season, but he was shipped to the Bruins in an offseason deal for defenseman Dennis Wideman.
The biggest offensive addition is Steve Bernier. The former first-round pick has been a bust so far and, with stops in San Jose, Buffalo and Vancouver already, it’s hard to believe he’ll suddenly turn things around playing for Florida. Bernier will begin the year as a third liner. If the light suddenly comes on, he’ll rise up pretty quickly.
The projected top defensive pairing of Wideman and Bryan McCabe packs some nice offensive punch — they combined for 73 points last year — but leave much to be desired in their own end. Despite their shortcomings, Florida wasn’t as bad defensively as you might think, ranking 19th in goals allowed.
Most of that credit, though, can be attributed to Tomas Vokoun. The netminder doesn’t have a lot of help, but he makes due; Vokoun ranked third in the NHL with a .925 save percentage last year.
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