Other than the New York Islanders, the Florida Panthers might be the team among the NHL's bottom-10 finishers from the 2013-14 season most likely to vault into playoff contention in 2014-15.
Florida did not make dramatic improvements through offseason additions, and how the Panthers play for a third coach in less than a year remains to be seen, but there are plenty of exciting young players to build around.
There were signs of serious improvement in the second half of last season, particularly in puck possession, after Peter Horachek replaced Kevin Dineen as coach. Horachek was not retained, though, and Gerard Gallant and his 147 games of NHL head coaching experience remains a bit of a mystery.
It was a curious offseason for the Panthers as well. Jussi Jokinen and Willie Mitchell look like solid additions, but the $27.5 million contract for Dave Bolland was panned as one of the worst of the offseason by a considerable portion of the hockey community. There are lots of prospects on the precipice of becoming NHL regulars, but not a lot of spots available unless veterans on one-way contracts are removed from the equation.
If a few young players turn into stars, Florida can fight for a playoff berth. If more growing pains are needed, it could be another long season.
Here's a look at the projected 2014-15 lineup for the Panthers: