Florida Panthers – Team of the Future

Last year the Florida Panthers accumulated only 60 points, ahead of only Columbus and Atlanta. Recently, Head Coach, Mike Keenan, signed a contract extension that will take him through the 2007-08 season. Why would he want to be tied down so long with such a team? The Florida Panthers have possibly the best young nucleus in the league. They could be cup contenders in years to come.

The main reason lies between the pipes. Roberto Luongo is their goaltender of the future. Classic butterfly goalie, Luongo is as big as Lalime, and moves like an Irbe or Richter. He is very confident, and strives in clutch situations. He could be the league’s top goalie in a few years.

Another reason, is their core of good young defenseman, most notably, Jay Bouwmeester. Bouwmeester, is an extremely smooth skater, that makes an excellent first pass. He’s not overly physical, but will not shy away. He is Florida’s top dog on the blueline for years.

Among other young defensemen are Filip Novak, Branislav Mezei and Lukas Krajicek. Novak is a future quarterback, with tremendous offensive skills. He’s a smooth skater, with a good set of hands. Combine that with a good shot, good vision and hockey sense, you’ve got a future quarterback defenseman. Krajicek is the same type of player as Novak, but to a lesser degree. Mezei, is a different case though, more of a physical defenseman. He can land thunderous hits, and is strong on his skates. He shows great poise and should crack the lineup next season.

I’m sure you’ve all learned the name Kristian Huselius by now. He was a finalist for the Calder trophy last year, racking up 23 goals and 22 assists. A superb stickhandler, with good skating and passing, this winger should be a force on Florida’s left side for several years.

Their most notable young forward has to be Stephen Weiss. An all-around great offensive player, with a great scoring touch to top it off. The only thing that could possibly hold him back at this point, would be his small frame, at 5’11, 178 lbs. He played 7 games with Florida last season, notching a goal and an assist.

With such great young players under the age of 24, Florida could be Stanley Cup contenders sooner than you think.

26 Responses to Florida Panthers – Team of the Future

  1. mikster says:

    The only thing you could hope for is that the organization, especially Keenan, can produce these future players well.

    They have the goaltending, they have the future solid defense, and their offense still looks kinda weak, but it should improve.

    I think the offense needs to be worked on and as of now….the Panthers lost a lot of offense by losing Bure. Huselius is good, Nilson is good, V. Bure is good but is injury prone and same goes with Kozlov. Weiss might join the team and produce something. Ritchie could be of some use and Ozolnish will also do well under Keenan. But, this team is going to have a hard time scoring. They have their future defense set. Even though i think Ptikanen will be better and cheaper than Bowumeester in the long run, Bowumeester is still a good defenseman who might be rushed though. Novak could be an Ozolnish type d-man, maybe even better…i hope. The Panthers have the good solid defense and the very good future defense. It’s time they get started on the offense though.

    Good to see someone write about the Panthers. I also liked the Tharshers article as well a week ago. I will be looking forward to post more articles on these unpopular teams.

  2. Kariya-09 says:

    I think they still need more veteran players in their line up to become more of a playoff team. I believe in 3-5 years they will be very fun to watch., if they keep the same players that is.

  3. MossRocks says:

    I hope that you can get rid of Keenan soon. He killed St. Louis and Vancouver. He is the most over-rated coach ever. Messier won the Cup with NYR and it was a fluke in Philly. Keenan is a bum with a shelf-life of two years. If he stays any longer than that (let alone 2007-2008) then Florida is in deep trouble. His act gets old with the players pretty quickly these days.

  4. MossRocks says:

    You forgot to mention Hagman; that kid can play.

  5. ManillaKilla says:

    I think your giving too much credit to Bouwmeester. I know he has all the skills and all the hype, but number one defensemen are hard to develop. Look at Chris Pronger. He was horrible in Hartford, and then struggled early on in St. Louis. I am not saying he can’t be the “top dog” that you think he is going to be, but he could just as easily be a Shih Tzu. There have been defensemen, with more talent than Boumeester, that have flopped.

  6. pantherboy says:

    Great article! I almost pissed my pants this morning when I went on and saw a Panthers article! Are you a Panthers fan too? Well if you are, then I think we will get along just fine.

  7. titans says:

    Awww look Pantherboy found someone else that shares his dillusional views!! Good for you! A love connection is made here at HTR!! Can I come to the wedding? I think the whole pissing of the pants thing is a direct result of being a PAnthers fan though.

    Not a half bad article though.

  8. titans says:

    Don’t worry Keenan will find a way to screw it up sooner or later.

  9. mikster says:

    Haven’t seen his offensive skills as much, but yeah…i know he is valuable.

  10. big_booty says:

    Alright, you’re getting on my nerves again.

    Messier did not do it himself in ’94. He credited Keenan with the Rangers’ historic victory and praised him to no end in the following off-season. I don’t remember exactly what was said, but Messier said that during the final intermission in game 7 of the finals, Keenan gave a locker room speech that was the impetus for their win. Messier said that the speech made him feel as if he were invincible, and that he had never felt more inspired to hit the ice. To me, that’s a great coach doing his job.

    As for the “fluke” in Philadelphia, nothing could be further from the truth. The Flyers were a young team in need of direction, and Keenan gave it to them, taking them to the Cup finals twice in three years, each time with a different goaltender. He helped groom youngsters like Rick Tocchet, Peter Zezel, Doug Crossman, and Derek Smith (the group was known as “Keenan’s Kids”), while blending in seasoned vets like Brad McCrimmon, Mark Howe, Tim Kerr, and Dave Poulin. He had the cojones to hand the goalie reins to Pelle Lindbergh (Vezina winner), and kept the team together after his unfortunate death. He also had the stones to go with Ron Hextall as a rookie, and all he did was win the Conn Smythe AND Vezina.

    Bottom line: Keenan makes teams better. Look at his first two years in Chicago, he literally reversed their record, losing 41 the first and winning 41 the second. The man does his job and does it well, and his act doesn’t always get old. The Bruins players openly campaigned for him to be retained by management.

    Florida is in a good position. Wait and see what Keenan does with them.

  11. platinumx15 says:

    i dont think novak will be the type of player that panthers fans will hope he turns out to be…..

  12. titans says:

    Sorry Booty gotta disagree with ya there dude! Keenan USED to make teams better!! Back before primadona multi-zillion athletes! Back when the players used to listen to their coach. Keenan’s act doesn’t work anymore. Players these days just tune him out (Hitch***** in Dallas) Players now know that if they don’t like the way their coach treats them they can just get him fired. Sad but true fact about todays NHL.

  13. MossRocks says:

    I was actually drunk when I made this post. (check the time) All in all it wasn’t too bad. It really bugs me when Keenan is made out to be a savior all the time, when he has killed some teams.

    I still think that Messier had much more to do with that win, along with a host of experienced ex-Oilers with a lot of rings, than Keenan did. Messier got them to Game 7 so that Keenan had a chance to say anything.

    The Philly thing was mostly drunk talk. That was a pretty good team and he did good work there.

    What do you have to say about St. Louis and Vancouver? With the exception of Chris Pronger (who credits Keenan with turning him around from the kind of drunk who makes late-night posts on HTR into a pro athlete) he did nothing but major damage to both of those franchises. How do you explain this if Keenan is such a messiah?

    Your Bruins example means nothing because he was there for a cup of coffee. Keenan does just fine when he is with a team for 1-2 years and has little or no input into player personnel. His act gets old fast in today’s NHL and if he is also the GM or pseudo-GM he kills teams.

    He will tease Florida with some success and then things will fall apart. The good news is that Dudley will control personnel (although they did pick up Matteau, which is classic Keenan crap) and hopefully will know when to change horses when Keenan starts to fail. I guarantee he won’t last till 2007-2008.

  14. MossRocks says:

    Keenan was the guy that turned Pronger into an NHL player.

  15. MossRocks says:

    I forgot to mention I definitely stand behind the “most over-rated coach ever” line. There are a lot of guys in the league who have had great success without the multiple failures that Keenan has had. They aren’t spoken of in hushed tones like Keenan is. Even if he isn’t total garbage like I think he is, he is still the most over-rated.

  16. bruinsfan12 says:

    Keenan was great in Boston in helping to get young players like Thornton and Samsonov going, and look at them now. Maybe Keenan can do the same with the young stars in Florida

  17. titans says:

    When others get drunk from what I understand, they take fat chicks home, get into fights, get tatoos. You post comments on HTR? Wow thats really pathetic.

  18. MossRocks says:

    HA HA Is that a strike? I don’t fight, I don’t need a tattoo, but you’re right even a fat chick would be better than HTR posts. Not my shining moment.

  19. titans says:

    It’s o.k. admitting your a looser is the first step towards recovery.

  20. jfresh says:

    Actually, I’m a Ranger fan. I just really think Florida has some potential.

  21. pantherboy says:

    I don’t believe much in those step-by-step myself. ESPICALLY for people with denial, but not like I would know, I have never been in denial!

  22. titans says:

    And you never will be Pantherboy, you never will be.

  23. Forsberg21 says:

    And if Keenan can find a way to get Ozolinsh to play like he did in Colorado, and maybe play a little D, they will be even better. It’s too bad Ozo’s play has deteriorated to where he isn’t even mentioned in an article talking about his teams Defensman being a reason for sucsess.

  24. pantherboy says:

    Did you see what he even did in Florida after he got traded from Carolina??? He was on fire for the rest of the year!!! He ended up like in the top 10 for D-man scoring. He wasn’t mentioned in the article because it was about the teams younger players, and their future.

  25. Forsberg21 says:

    He was streaky in Carolina too, usually with poor play dominating his bursts of multi point nights.

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