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(Page 7 of 15)
NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

30 in 30: Panthers lineup relies on young players

Sunday, 08.18.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

A year after a surprising division title, a mixture of injuries and regression left the Florida Panthers with the worst record in the NHL.

The Panthers did not make any seismic moves in attempt to yo-yo back into Stanley Cup Playoff contention, but another elite prospect, Aleksander Barkov, joins a stable of precocious talents, and general manager Dale Tallon will let the development of those players dictate how much the team can improve in 2013-14.

Stephen Weiss, the team's No. 1 center for the past five seasons, went to the Detroit Red Wings on a five-year contract, but Barkov, the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, is expected to center one of the top two lines immediately. The Panthers did add a couple of potential role players up front, Scott Gomez and Joey Crabb.

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30 in 30: Young Panthers look to re-establish success

Sunday, 08.18.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Mike Battaglino - NHL.com Staff Writer

You'll have to excuse the Florida Panthers if they seem especially eager for the 2013-14 season to begin.

The sooner they can erase the bad taste of 2012-13, the better.

"I'm excited about our future. The past is the past," general manager Dale Tallon said almost immediately after last season ended. "What happened should be a lesson to everyone that they have to be prepared and ready to play, and they have to compete for jobs, and no one is given a spot here."

The Panthers went from division champion to last in the NHL, a dive caused in part by injuries to almost all of their top players and deficiencies in their conditioning and consistency of effort.

"[We were] blindsided by it all, unexpected obviously, after what happened [in 2011-12]," Tallon told the Panthers' website. "The NHL's a tough league, and if you're not prepared and not ready to play and you're not at your best every night, you're not going to win. And we were not at our best on a lot of the nights.

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30 in 30: Matthias' consistency is Panthers' X-factor

Sunday, 08.18.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Mike Battaglino - NHL.com Staff Writer

Shawn Matthias played in 25 different months for the Florida Panthers and scored 28 goals.

Then, this March, he scored 11.

If he can come closer to that stretch more often than he hasn't, the center will be an incredibly helpful player for a Panthers team that has craved goals for years.

"I don't want to be a passenger, I want to be a leader," Matthias said in July, after re-signing for two years. "I'm working my butt off this summer and looking forward to having a big season."

Matthias did not even have a big April, going without a goal in 12 games, but said he was playing through an injury.

"The thing a lot of people don't know is I was pretty banged up near the end of the year there," he said. "I think the key is to stay healthy, and I'm going to come to camp ready to go. … I want to be the best player on the team."

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30 in 30: Markstrom among Panthers questions

Sunday, 08.18.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Mike Battaglino - NHL.com Staff Writer

After a 2012-13 season that created far more questions than answers for the Florida Panthers, one lingered above all others: "What the heck happened?"

A free-fall from division champ to NHL-worst has Florida entering this season wondering if anything else can go wrong.

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30 in 30: Panthers have deep prospect pool

Sunday, 08.18.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Mike Battaglino - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Florida Panthers prepared for last season expecting their overflowing pool of prospects to provide three players for the NHL roster. Turns out, five from NHL.com's top 10 list made their NHL debut in 2012-13, with a sixth playing one-third of the 48-game schedule and a seventh setting the stage to become a regular.

One, Jonathan Huberdeau, wound up winning the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year. Another, Jacob Markstrom, enters 2013-14 as the No. 1 goaltender. A third, Drew Shore, skated in 43 games.

Then, Florida's fall from division champion to last in the League gave the organization two more top draft picks to add to a collection that remains among the NHL's best.

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30 in 30: Age, health among questions for Red Wings

Saturday, 08.17.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

David Kalan - NHL.com Staff Writer

Of the moves made by the Detroit Red Wings this offseason, the signing of Daniel Alfredsson was almost certainly the splashiest, or at least the most unexpected. Alfredsson had been a mainstay with the Ottawa Senators for nearly two decades, the type of player expected to spend his entire career in one uniform. After jumping south of the border, however, Alfredsson may still be wearing red, but the crest on his jersey is going to be different.

Alfredsson's one-year contract makes the objective very plain. Despite numbers that should one day put him in the Hockey Hall of Fame, Alfredsson is missing the one thing athletes play for, and his deal with Detroit is an obvious bid for the Stanley Cup championship that has eluded him.

This isn't the first time someone has come to the Motor City on a one-year deal, as Red Wings fans will remember well, but no one knows for sure what kind of impact Alfredsson will have when he first pulls on the Winged Wheel.

That is one of six questions Detroit will have to answer this season:

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30 in 30: Despite changes, Red Wings will compete

Saturday, 08.17.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

David Kalan - NHL.com Staff Writer

As the NHL undergoes its biggest structural realignment in 15 years, there may be no team that is more affected by it than the Detroit Red Wings.

Since 1981, the Red Wings have called the Western Conference -- formerly the Campbell Conference -- home, but as the League shifts to a new four-division format, Detroit is one of three teams, along with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets, changing conferences.

The move is a mixed bag for Detroit, which waves goodbye to several strong geographic rivalries, most notably the NHL's longest-running grudge match with the Chicago Blackhawks. But the loss of quick regional trips to Chicago, St. Louis or Nashville is going to be offset by no longer having to take multiple trips out west to face the likes of Vancouver or Los Angeles. Those treks to the Pacific Division were a bigger burden on the team than it might have seemed, given that Detroit is in the Eastern time zone and would play a significant chunk of its schedule at 10 p.m. ET or later, making it difficult for fans to watch midweek contests through to the end.

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30 in 30: Red Wings lineup adds Weiss, Alfredsson

Saturday, 08.17.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Detroit Red Wings have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs for so long it is a big deal in the NHL, and not making it would be a really big deal.

Detroit's streak of consecutive appearances in the playoffs was in doubt for longer than usual in 2012-13, but a younger-than-normal Red Wings team earned a spot in the final days of the season and ended up upsetting the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks in the first round before pushing the eventual champion Chicago Blackhawks to overtime in Game 7 of the second round.

That series against the Blackhawks was a star turn for goaltender Jimmy Howard and a glimpse of what could be to come for the Red Wings. What was supposed to be a transition year was one goal from being an incredibly successful one.

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30 in 30: Red Wings rely heavily on X-factor Howard

Saturday, 08.17.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

David Kalan - NHL.com Staff Writer

With the Detroit Red Wings, the expectations are to compete for the Stanley Cup every season, and it's no secret that doing so requires a goalie who warms up along with the weather each spring.

The Red Wings have managed a remarkable feat in winning four championships over the past 17 years with a revolving door in net, claiming the Cup in 1997 with Mike Vernon, repeating in 1998 with Chris Osgood, taking a third title in 2002 with Dominik Hasek, and ascending to the top again in 2008 with Osgood.

Winning the Stanley Cup four times in relatively short time is always an impressive feat, but doing so with multiple goaltenders is particularly difficult. Detroit's crease has traditionally been home to a quality player, but it hasn't always been home to stability.

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30 in 30: Time for Red Wings to turn to prospects

Saturday, 08.17.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

David Kalan - NHL.com Staff Writer

By no means are the Detroit Red Wings a team that's past its prime, but it it's not exactly young either.

The Red Wings have 13 players on their roster who will be 30 or older by the time the 2013-14 NHL season ends, meaning that while the inevitable transition to a younger crop of players isn't here yet, it isn't far off.

Fortunately for Detroit, a team known for plucking elite players like Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg from the darkest corners of the NHL Draft, there are a number of potential reinforcements almost ready. Detroit's American Hockey League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, won the Calder Cup last spring. More than one of these prospects could be wearing the Winged Wheel in the not-too-distant future.

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Quote of the Day

I'm hoping Bob [Murray] didn't go out and get Dany Heatley just to get someone. I'm sure he's excited and motivated.

— Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on general manager Bob Murray's decision to sign Dany Heatley