Updated: Oct 4, 2022
Additions: Matthew Tkachuk, Colin White, Nick Cousins, Rudolfs Balcers, Marc Staal, Chris Tierney, Gerald Mayhew, Michael Del Zotto, Anthony Bitetto, Alex Lyon
Subtractions: Jonathan Huberdeau, Mackenzie Weegar, Mason Marchment, Claude Giroux, Maxim Mamin, Joe Thornton, Noel Acciari, Ben Chiarot, Robert Hagg, Olli Juolevi, Jonas Johansson
The Panthers did a lot of shuffling that involved both their core and reserves, and it will be interesting to contrast the different style Tkachuk plays as opposed to Huberdeau. There's no question both are elite, but how Tkachuk fits in this lineup - specifically who he plays with - will be fun to track throughout the season.
Losing underrated impact players Weegar and Marchment may prove to be a big blow to the club, but White, Cousins, and Balcers provide some value as role players in their own right.
Probable For Opener: -None-
Questionable For Opener: -None-
Out To Begin Season: Anthony Duclair (Achilles)
Out For Season: -None-
Florida will be missing Duclair - one of their key forwards - for about half the season. Look for him to return sometime around the turn of the new year.
(league ranks in parentheses)
Carter Verhaeghe - Aleksander Barkov - Colin White
Matthew Tkachuk - Sam Bennett - Sam Reinhart
Nick Cousins - Anton Lundell - Rudolfs Balcers
Ryan Lomberg - Eetu Luostarinen - Patric Hornqvist
Marc Staal - Aaron Ekblad
Gustav Forsling - Radko Gudas
Lucas Carlsson - Brandon Montour
Your guess is as good as mine with how new head coach Paul Maurice will structure the lineup. There's likely a lot of tinkering in order to see what clicks, but we do know Verhaeghe has played well with Barkov and playing Tkachuk with Bennett and Reinhart instead of their top center makes the Panthers lineup a little deeper.
Ekblad needs a new defense partner with the departure of Weegar, and the easy move would be to slot incoming veteran Staal in that spot. The problem is, Staal's best days are behind him and he's not really suited for top-pair shutdown minutes any more. Forsling's certainly capable, but best fits on the second pair. Montour has certainly earned more even-strength minutes, but is a right shot like Ekblad and would have to play his off side.
In goal, there's speculation that this might be the year Knight takes the reigns from Bobrovsky, but Maurice is likely to lean on the veteran unless his performance says otherwise.
Playmakers: Matthew Tkachuk | Aleksander Barkov | Sam Reinhart
Volume Shooters: Matthew Tkachuk | Aleksander Barkov | Sam Bennett | Patric Hornqvist | Ryan Lomberg
Play-Drivers: Matthew Tkachuk | Patric Hornqvist
Shutdown Defenders: Sam Reinhart | Patric Hornqvist | Ryan Lomberg
Shot Blockers: -None-
Hitters: Radko Gudas | Ryan Lomberg
Enforcers: Radko Gudas | Ryan Lomberg | Nick Cousins
Penalty Drawers: Matthew Tkachuk | Sam Bennett | Anthony Duclair | Ryan Lomberg | Nick Cousins
PP Specialists: Matthew Tkachuk | Sam Reinhart
PK Specialists: -None-
Faceoff Specialists: Aleksander Barkov
Studs: Matthew Tkachuk, Aleksander Barkov, Sam Reinhart, Aaron Ekblad
Sleepers: Spencer Knight, Anthony Duclair
Other Roster Worthy: Sam Bennett, Sergei Bobrovsky
No matter the structure of the forwards, Tkachuk, Barkov, and Reinhart carry their own lines well enough to be fantasy staples. Ekblad is among the top defensemen to roster as well.
Bennett will profit from quality linemates, but it's worth keeping an eye on his role and if youngster Anton Lundell gives him a run for important ice-time. Knight is a sleeper if he can challenge Bobrovsky for starts, based on expected win-percentage alone. Duclair may not be stash-worthy while injured, but could be a nice mid-season pickup as he's expected to play in the top six and get significant powerplay time again once healthy.
2022-2023 PuckLuck Projections
PuckLuck Projection: 101 points
Floor: 84 points Ceiling: 110 points
Projection Data Confidence: 73%
(League Average: 70%)
Stanley Cup: +550
President's Trophy: +750
DraftKings Sportsbook Lines:
Stanley Cup: +850
President's Trophy: +800
The PuckLuck model is projecting significant regression from the Panthers this season from their 122-point President's Trophy winning season last year. Losing a top-pair defenseman and replacing him with a 3rd-pair worthy player is certainly part of the equation, and missing Duclair for half-a-season also doesn't help.
The recurring theme is how tough the Atlantic Division is. While Florida certainly has a shot at hitting some futures bets, there's plenty of competition from their biggest foes. If there's not an adjustment period needed and the Panthers don't struggle a bit out of the gate, they can be a good in-season Cup-winning bet.
Other than that, it's likely their daily unders might be the best bet throughout the season, as the new coaching staff is on record of implementing a defensive-focused mentality.
Division Projection: 3rd
Conference Projection: 7th
League Projection: 12th
Despite the projected regression, Florida is still expected to earn a playoff bid from finishing top three in the division. If they get going, the Panthers will continue to be one of the most dangerous teams in the league. The questions really revolve around the adjustments to the roster and adapting to Coach Maurice's style of play, which was all brought to the table in hopes of becoming a tougher team to play against in the playoffs.