As we move closer to hockey’s version of the “Final Four”, and with not much news to report here in Sunrise, let’s take a brief look at what some of the needs are for the Florida Panthers in the upcoming season. With realignment, and new divisional foes, the Florida Panthers will be facing stiffer competition on a nightly basis within their division. A seven team setup that includes Detroit, Boston, Montreal, Ottawa, Buffalo, Tampa and Toronto should force the Panthers to make some improvements to their roster, but at the same time acquire players that will help make this team playoff ready. Not to focus on specific players that the Panthers should go after, we’ll focus more on what they need to add to become more competitive.
* The first “ingredient” so to speak is leadership. The team is in need of a player that not only has a vocal presence in the dressing room and on the ice, but a player who can back up his statements with his play. A true captain if you will similar to a Jonathan Toews or a Sidney Crosby, yet without as much offensive upside because we know those players cost too much for the Panthers at this point. No offence to Ed Jovanovski who was the perfect selection as captain last season from the players on the roster, but with his season long injuries, the Panthers required a player to step up and take charge, and I’m not exactly sure if the Panthers have anyone else worthy of captaincy. While players such as Toews and Crosby are a special breed and hard to find, there are proven veteran leaders out there who have similar vocal and leadership qualities of those two.
If you go to Cap Geek and look at the top list of unrestricted free agents, there are some pretty significant names that are available this summer. Pascal Dupuis could be someone that the Panthers can target, although he could demand too much money. However, if you want to win, you have to spend some money, and sooner or later Florida must realize this. Jarome Iginla is also on that list, and as much as I think he’d be an excellent acquisition, he’ll command far too much for the budget of this team at this point. Brenden Morrow is another interesting name to look at, and for those who thought he might be at the end of his career, his resurgence with Pittsburgh and performance in the post season argues against that. He just might be rejuvenated enough to give someone a couple of good years. The bottom line is that in order for Florida to grow, and succeed, they must mix in a few wily veterans who know how to win, and who are willing to show the youngsters how it’s done, and still have some game left.