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Examining the Florida Panthers

by John McGourty /

Complete Panthers Analysis:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards
Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster

With Vokoun, Panthers figure to be much improved

The Panthers got off to a rocky start last season in the wake of Roberto Luongo's departure to Vancouver. The new goaltenders, Ed Belfour and Alex Auld, didn't play too well early on and the club slipped out of the playoff race early. Just when all hope seemed lost, however, Belfour went on a tear and the club rose in the standings. But it was too little too late.

Still, the organization and its fans have to take heart from the late-season rally. Belfour and Auld squabbled and it was a distraction for the team. GM-coach Jacques Martin is on record as saying character counts with the Panthers so he sent both goalies packing and traded for Nashville Predator star Tomas Vokoun. Craig Anderson, who had a good year in the AHL last season, is expected to back up Vokoun.

Otherwise, minor changes have been made to the squad, mostly on right wing where Richard Zednik and Radek Dvorak have been signed. Bret McLean has been brought in to play left wing.

The Panthers have had good luck in acquiring defensemen in recent years. Bryan Allen, Ruslan Salei and Mike Van Ryn have all improved their offensive production since joining the Panthers. Cory Murphy has been brought over from Finland to provide power-play skills. The entire defensive corps will benefit from the hiring of Mike Kitchen as an assistant coach.

Captain Olli Jokinen had another strong season as did Rostislav Olesz. Nathan Horton came into his own with a 62-point season and further improvement is likely.

Former goalie Roberto Luongo trained with the Panthers this summer and told a Miami reporter that the Panthers will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Luongo may well be right.

2006-07 Record:
35-31-16, 4th Southeast

Who's In:
G Tomas Vokoun, G Craig Anderson, F Bret McLean, F Richard Zednik, F Radek Dvorak

Who's Out:
G Ed Belfour, G Alex Auld, F Martin Gelinas, D Alexei Semenov, F Chris Gratton, F Juraj Kolnick 

2006-07 Leading Scorers:Olii Jokinen (39-52-91), Nathan Horton (31-31-62), Jozef Stumpel (23-34-57), Stephen Weiss (20-28-48), Martin Gelinas (14-30-44)

2006-07 Goaltending Leaders:
Ed Belfour 27-17-10, 2.77 GAA, 58 appearances, .902 save percentage, 1 shutout; Alex Auld 7-13-5, 3.34 GAA, 27 appearances, .888 save percentage, 1 shutout; Craig Anderson 1-1-1, 2.21 GAA, five appearances, .931 save percentage, 0 shutouts's 2007-08 Panthers Season Preview Package:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards | Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster
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