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30 in 30

Panthers' lineup adds Huberdeau, Mueller

Friday, 08.24.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

For those hockey fans who are involved in fantasy leagues, Dale Tallon's work with the Florida Panthers in the calendar year of 2011 looked like a real-world nod to the yo-yo nature of keeper-based contests.

Tallon gutted an underachieving roster before the 2011 trade deadline, and it looked like he ushered in a new five-year plan in South Florida. Instead, the rebuild happened much quicker. Tallon added players in bulk last summer, in part because he needed to fill roster spots and reach the salary cap floor.

His new collection of players jelled much quick than anyone could have expected, and new coach Kevin Dineen led the Panthers to the first division title in franchise history and the first trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in more than a decade.

Panthers boast deep, talented collection of prospects

Friday, 08.24.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Mike Battaglino - NHL.com Staff Writer

Let's let someone else describe the state of the prospects in the Florida Panthers organization:

"With NHL talent heading every position -- some of whom have All-Star potential -- the Florida Panthers are set to open the tap on a stream of prospects that will start pouring into south Florida for the foreseeable future. In fact, the system is so loaded with talent, the Panthers could split off a second team entirely and have a somewhat competitive squad based only on prospects."

That possible exaggeration comes from HockeysFuture.com. But listen to Panthers general manager Dale Tallon, and it might not be that far off.

"We've got a lot of skill now, we've got a lot of size, we've got a lot of depth, and we've got a real solid group of young prospects," Tallon said during development camp this summer. "Our organization is very deep right now."

Panthers expect healthy Mueller to perform

Friday, 08.24.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Mike Battaglino - NHL.com Staff Writer

Peter Mueller
Center - FLA
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 16
SOG: 82 | +/-: -3
The line stands out among Peter Mueller's statistics -- 20 points in 15 games during the 2009-10 season.

The Florida Panthers signed the 24-year-old Mueller to a one-year contract as a free agent this offseason with those numbers -- and their need for any kind of offense -- certainly in mind.

"He understands this is a great opportunity for him," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said after the July 12 signing. "He's a top-six forward. He has size and skill, and he's still young. It's well worth the risk for us to sign him to a one-year deal and hope he gets back to what he was before he was injured."

Secondary scoring among top questions for Panthers

Friday, 08.24.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Mike Battaglino - NHL.com Staff Writer

Entering last season, the Florida Panthers faced one overriding question:

"Who are these guys?"

General manager Dale Tallon remade the roster last summer, adding 10 new players to a core of Stephen Weiss and little else.

Entering this season, "these guys" are the defending Southeast Division champion, and the questions now involve a team on the rise that could be a player or two (from inside or outside) from entering Stanley Cup contention.

Panthers hope to build off last season's success

Friday, 08.24.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Mike Battaglino - NHL.com Staff Writer

If the Florida Panthers improve this season the way they did in 2011-12, a Stanley Cup can't be far off.

Consider: The Panthers jumped 22 points, nine places and 12 seeds in the Eastern Conference in the standings, made the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2000, and won the only division title in franchise history.

Then, in the first round of the playoffs, they built a 3-2 series lead against the New Jersey Devils before losing Game 6 in overtime and Game 7 in double overtime.

The Devils went on to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

Last season's success could be springboard for Sens

Thursday, 08.23.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

The Ottawa Senators took their fans on an incredible roller coaster ride last season; one general manager Bryan Murray believes was started by having such a young team that was also adjusting to life with a new head coach.

Faced with very low expectations coming off a season where the Senators finished 13th in the Eastern Conference (19 points out of a playoff spot), Ottawa began as everyone expected with a 1-5-0 start.

However, that was followed by a six-game winning streak, then a five-game skid and a three-game winning streak, providing an early indication of how the Senators would play a season marked by extreme peaks and valleys, culminating in a Game 7 defeat in the first round of the playoffs at the hands of the top-seeded New York Rangers.

But with coach Paul MacLean's system – based heavily on conditioning and relentless skating – now installed and with a lot more stability on the roster, Murray hopes the Senators surprise success last season can carry over to the beginning of this one.

Karlsson encore one of Senators' six questions

Thursday, 08.23.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

The Ottawa Senators enter this season as an incumbent playoff team after having fast-tracked a turnaround from a 13th-place finish in the Eastern Conference in 2010-11 to nab the eighth spot in the East last spring.

But unexpected performances can sometimes lead to unreasonably heightened expectations, and they also mean the Senators will not be sneaking up on any opponents this season.

How the Senators deal with that newfound status is among the six questions this club faces as it prepares for the 2012-13 season.

1. Can the Senators maintain last season's momentum?

That's hard to say, because practically the entire Senators season was driven by streaks right up to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when they dropped two of the first three games in the first round against the New York Rangers after finishing the regular season with three straight losses.

Overall the Senators' season, in chronological order, went like this: a 1-5-0 start, a six-game winning streak, a five-game losing streak (0-4-1), five wins in seven games (5-1-1), six losses in eight games (2-4-2), a 13-2-2 stretch, seven straight losses (0-6-1), nine wins in 13 games (9-3-1), five losses in six games (1-3-2), four straight wins, and finally three straight losses.

Turris' development could propel Sens' improvement

Thursday, 08.23.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

The Ottawa Senators began last season with a gaping hole at center behind No. 1 pivot Jason Spezza, one that general manager Bryan Murray takes all the blame for.

"It was a hole I created myself when I traded Mike Fisher," Murray says.

Of course, Murray's trade of Mike Fisher to the Nashville Predators for a first-round pick in the 2011 Draft (Stefan Noesen) and what became a third-round pick in 2012 (Jarrod Maidens) was born out of necessity, because the Ottawa Senators were in the midst of a disastrous 2010-11 season at the time.

Still, Murray didn't do such a bad job filling that hole he "created" when he traded Fisher away.

On Dec. 17, 2011, Murray packaged promising defenseman David Rundblad and a second-round draft pick to acquire Kyle Turris from the Phoenix Coyotes after his relationship with the club that selected him with the No. 3 pick at the 2007 draft grew sour.

While Turris, 23, was painted as a bit of a troublemaker for orchestrating his trade out of Phoenix, Murray couldn't be happier with his acquisition today.

"He's a terrific kid," Murray told NHL.com, minutes after Turris left his office for an off-season chat. "He's been here just about every day working out; he's up to about 198 pounds now. He looks like he's really matured into a man."

Zibanejad leads stacked list of Senators top prospects

Thursday, 08.23.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

It says something about the depth of the Ottawa Senators system that a young player who could potentially make the big club this season – Mike Hoffman, the leading scorer on the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton – could not even crack the list of the team's top 10 prospects.

Over the past five years, the Ottawa has stockpiled an impressive number of young players, some of whom will be ready to challenge for a spot with the Senators as soon as this season.

The 2011 NHL Draft allowed the Senators to draft three players in the first round, Mika Zibanejad at No. 6, Stefan Noesen at No. 21 and Matt Puempel at No. 24, not to mention second-round pick Shane Prince.

"We drafted a lot of skill last year," Senators director of player personnel Pierre Dorion told NHL.com. "What we've done in [the 2011] draft and the three previous drafts is we really improved the depth of our prospects. When [general manager] Bryan [Murray] and [assistant GM] Tim [Murray] took over we had three players returning in Binghamton and few players in junior we were going to sign, so the cupboard was really bare."

That is far from being the case today, with a number of bright young prospects that puts the Senators among the most stacked teams in the NHL when it comes to the volume of promising players in the system.

Senators' young talent will force roster decisions

Thursday, 08.23.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

If the Florida Panthers weren't the most surprising team in the NHL last season, then it was certainly the Ottawa Senators, a club that was supposed to be rebuilding and expected to languish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

Instead, the Senators ended up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and they pushed the top-seeded New York Rangers to seven games in the first round. The majority of the key figures are back, and more help from the farm system could be on the way.

Ottawa replaced top-pairing defenseman Filip Kuba with Marc Methot. After dealing top-six forward Nick Foligno to get Methot, he was replaced by Guillame Latendresse on a one-year deal. Defenseman Matt Carkner signed a three-year contract with the Islanders, and Mike Lundin was inked to replace him on a more team-friendly deal. The remaining position battles in training camp will depend on the readiness of a few top prospects.

Like the Panthers, the Senators will have to prove their work last season was not that of a one-hit wonder, but contributions from new young players and improvements from the established young guys could help Ottawa challenge Boston and Buffalo for the top spot in the Northeast Division.

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