Sunday, July 29, 2007

Panthers Unveiled

The cat will come back in 2007/08 to Miami, but his duds will be just a little bit different. Over the weekend, the Panthers unveiled their new jerseys in the new RBK style and they don't look too bad. The team still doesn't have a great deal of bite offensively, but they have certainly improved at the back end when they acquired Tomas Vokoun from the Nashville Predators. How much of a difference will Vokoun give the Panthers? When healthy, Vokoun can be a Top 50 or even a Top 10 player in pool rankings and that means wins. A lot of wins. I'm sure players like Jay Bouwmeester and Mike Van Ryn, who are more offensively gifted, will improve their numbers this year, because they know they have an elite keeper behind them.

Up front, they added Brett McLean, Radek Dvorak and Richard Zednik... three guys who can play a good character role and chip in a few goals here and there. Where everyone will fit in is the big question for the Panthers. As much as they can rely on Olli Jokinen to have a superb season, the Panthers will really look to Nathan Horton to improve his numbers and the same goes for Rostislav Olesz. Horton scored 31 goals last season, but the Panthers are looking for a 40-goal season and it may not be too far off. In Olesz, he only scored 11 goals in 75 games... he'll have a vast improvement in his tallies. It should be a better year for the Panthers, but it still may not be a playoff season for them.

Ville PeltonenOlli JokinenNathan Horton
Brett McLeanJozef StumpelRadek Dvorak
Rostislav OleszStephen Weiss *Richard Zednik
David BoothGregory CampbellDrew Larman
Jay BouwmeesterRuslan Salei
Bryan AllenMike Van Ryn
Steve Montador *Branislav Mezei
Tomas Vokoun
Craig Anderson

Cap-wise, this line-up is only worth about $37 million. Stephen Weiss is still unsigned, but not going to arbitration. Steve Montador has his arbitration hearing on August 3rd. With these two signings left to do, the Panthers brass won't have to worry about coming too close to the cap this season. They still might find themselves in the market for some of the Unrestricted Free Agents that are remaining.

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