As much as any team in the NHL, take the following line combinations with a grain of salt, for two reasons: Jacques Martin is a bench coach who mixes and matches, depending on opponents, situations and quality of play, and there are no entitlement positions. Every job and every minute of ice time will be performance determined. Every team says that, Martin does it.
That said, look for leading Olli Jokinen to center a line with Rotislav Olesz on the left wing and Nathan Horton on the right. Passing wizard Jozef Stumpel is slotted between Ville Peltonen and Radek Dvorak. The depth of the Panthers at center is illustrated by the fact Stephen Weiss will center the third line with Bret McLean on the left and Richard Zednik on the right. Greg Campbell was very consistent as fourth-line center and will line up with David Booth on the left and Rob Globke on the right.
Weiss, Jokinen, Stumpel, Horton, departed Martin Gelinas and Peltonen were the leading-scoring forwards on the Panthers' power play last season. New Panthers Dvorak and Zednik also are effective power-play workers. Weiss led Florida with 10 power-play goals, while Jokinen led with 28 points off nine goals and 19 assists.
Peltonen and Stumpel both averaged over three minutes of shorthanded play per game. Olesz, Campbell and Weiss averaged over two minutes. Horton and Jokinen saw regular shorthanded play.
Up and Coming
Kendall McArdle -- Was drafted 20th overall in 2005. Scored 19 goals and 23 assists split between Moose Jaw and Vancouver last season. Netted 11 goals and nine assists in postseason play.
Michal Repik -- Lead the Giants to the Memorial Cup and was the leading scorer there. Scored 24 goals and 31 assists in regular-season play.
Anthony Stewart -- The signings of Dvorak and Zednik may push Stewart further down the depth chart. Stewart has had terrible luck since being drafted, but he also doesn't play the way Martin wants.
Stephen Weiss -- He bounced back from the wrist injury that prematurely ended his 2005-06 season to enjoy his first 20-goal season last year. He also added 28 assists for his highest scoring total in his four-year NHL career. Weiss was the fourth overall pick of the 2001 Entry Draft. Weiss can do better. He was a scoring legend in Toronto youth leagues before his big years with the Plymouth Whalers. Weiss will eventually move up to center one of the top two lines. For now, he's one of the top-scoring third-line centers.