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Draft Preview: Florida Panthers – Broken promises

Perpetually young and talented, it’s high time for Panthers to deliver.

Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but the future looks bright in south Florida. Of course, it was supposed to look bright last year…and the year before. Until this team learns to get out of the gate with some urgency, it will continue to be questioned. The Panthers have an abundance of offensive talent, both in their lineup and system. But the problem is they sometimes play as though defense isn’t important. And they don’t have a top-flight goaltender or defenseman in their system. The former will be helped by the arrival of Joel Quenneville as coach. The latter must be addressed by GM Dale Tallon.

IMMEDIATE NEEDS: Only San Jose’s goalies had a worse save percentage than Florida’s netminders. The Panthers have to figure out what they’ll do with the oft-injured Roberto Luongo, who is 40 and has three years left on his deal with prohibitive cap-recapture penalties for a buyout. Don’t be surprised if he ends up on the long-term injured list.

LONG-TERM NEEDS: Goaltending is also a long-term need, but just as gaping a hole is depth at forward. When Vincent Trocheck went down with a broken ankle in November, that essentially ended the Panthers’ season. They did not have the depth to replace him and went into a tailspin.

CAP SITUATION: Tallon has gone on the record as saying the Panthers will be a cap team next season, which means they have more than $20 million to spend. There is speculation about pending UFAs Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, but Florida also needs to bolster its blueline.

IN THE SYSTEM 2019-20: The Panthers managed to integrate Henrik Borgstrom into their lineup, and it appears Sam Montembeault is ready to take on the backup-goaltending role. Scoring winger Owen Tippett had an outstanding season in the OHL and has rounded out his game.

DID YOU KNOW: Prospect winger Logan Hutsko has overcome serious injuries. He broke his neck while with the U.S. NTDP in 2015 and sustained a concussion and another head injury while playing for Boston College.

LATE-ROUND GEMS:
(2000-2018 drafts)
Vincent Trocheck, 64th, ’11
Evgenii Dadonov, 71st, ’07
Greg Campbell, 67th, ’02
Zach Hyman, 123rd, ’10
Tanner Glass, 265th, ’03
Joonas Donskoi, 99th, ’10
Denis Malgin, 102nd, ’15
MacKenzie Weegar, 206th, ’13
Matt Bartkowski, 190th, ’08
Ivan Majesky, 267th, ’01

PICKS AFTER SECOND ROUND: 108
100+ NHL GAMES: 12
PERCENT SUCCESS: 11.1%
NHL RANK: 21st

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