I am very excited about the up and coming 2001-2002 season! There are still a few minor moves that need to be made but other than that the Panthers look competitive this year. I am going to look at all the spots on this rostor and share my line predictions and how I think the players will do.
Forwards – Once again Pavel Bure will lead this team in points and goals, but this year he will have more help around him. Trading Rob Niedermayer for Val Bure and Jason Wiemer was a good move. Val brings speed and points while Jason will bring the Panthers a hard checking center who can score a little. Look for Marcus Nilson to have a big year playing along side Pavel Bure. This kid is fast and has some decent hands. Their are 3 rookies who could crack a lineup spot this season; LW Niklas Hagman, C Steve Weiss, and RW Kristian Huselius. Hagman had 28 goals and 46 points in 56 games last year. Steve Weiss was drafted 4th overall in the 2001 Entry Draft and had 40 goals and 87 points in 62 games. Kristian Huselius had 32 goals and 67 ponits in 49 games. Huselius lead the Swedish Elite leauge in goals, assist, points, shorthanded goals, and PP goals last year. The Panthers still lack a vetern leader up front though. I also thinkn Olli Jokien will slump once again this year and he should be traded. Here are my line predictions for forward.
M.Nilson – V.Kozlov – P.Bure
I. Novoseltsev – R. Johnson – V. Bure
D. Shvidki – K. Adams – K. Huslius
P.Worrell – J. Wiemer – S. Payer
Defense – A pretty good group of guys on the blueline this season. Robert Svehla will rebound after a terrible 2001 season. Brent Hedican and Dan Boyle are becoming pretty good. Both are very fast and are not afriad to play rough. Lance Pitlick will once again throw some big hits on the ice. Paul Laus is looking to return this year after an injury-plagued 2001 season. He can drop the gloves when needed. Look for Brad Ference to get more playing time this year. Last year playing for Louisville (AHL) he recored 3 goals, 24 points and 200 PIM. Look for a trade this year to bring an offensive defenseman to the Panthers.
R. Svehla – B. Hedican
D. Boyle – L. Pitlick
P. Laus – B. Ference
Goaltender – After a stellar 2001 season Roberto Loungo will be the Panthers #1 goalie this season. Last year he had a horrible record ( 12-24-7), but marvolous numbers ( 2.44 GAA , .920 S%). Backing up Loungo this year is newly aquired Wade Flaherty. Flaherty split last season with the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning. He was signed as a UFA. It looks as though Trevor Kidd will be traded for a offensive defenseman or a vertern leader up front. Some talks have him going to Vancouver, St. Louis, NYR, LA, and Atlanta. Trevor’s salary is just too big for a backup goalie. Also he is capable of playing more games, and I’m sure he doesnt want to sit on the bench most of the season.
In all I think the Panthers will make 6th/7th/or 8th in the Eastern Conference this season. They have a decent bunch of guys and, baring injuries, I look to see them being competitive once again.
If you have any comments I would be glad to here from you.