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Team Reset

Panthers view Bobrovsky signing as needed element for return to playoffs

Additions of two-time Vezina Trophy winner in goal, Quenneville as coach bring renewed optimism

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Florida Panthers:

The Florida Panthers made one of the biggest splashes this offseason when they signed free agent goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to a seven-year contract.

Landing the two-time Vezina Trophy winner (2013, 2017) not only gave Florida a top-flight goalie, it was another sign of how committed they are to winning after missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for three straight seasons.

The Panthers also added championship pedigree when Joel Quenneville, a three-time Stanley Cup winning coach with the Chicago Blackhawks (2010, 2013, 2015), was hired April 8 to replace Bob Boughner. Quenneville's presence played a role in selling Bobrovsky, as well as defenseman Anton Stralman and forwards Noel Acciari and Brett Connolly, on signing with the Panthers, who despite a talented and maturing core have missed the playoffs in six of the past seven seasons.

"With the bright future this team has, with a great coach and management and with a really talented group of guys, I'm excited to be here," Bobrovsky said. "I think we can make something really special here."

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

General manager Dale Tallon said he's pleased with the fact the Panthers were able to complete their offseason to-do list. 

"As a group we felt we needed to make some changes to our roster to get it deeper so we could make a good run for the playoffs," he said. "We addressed some needs. … We have plenty of scoring ability, plenty of offense. We had to address compete, physicality and goals-against. Those were the concerns we had and I think we did a good job of addressing those needs."

Here is what the Panthers look like today:

 

Key arrivals

Sergei Bobrovsky, G: The 30-year-old, who has an NHL record of 255-153-37, helped the Columbus Blue Jackets sweep the Presidents' Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference First Round by shutting down the highest-scoring team in the NHL with a 2.01 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. … Joel Quenneville, coach: His 890 regular-season wins (890-532-137 with 77 ties) are second in NHL history to Scotty Bowman (1,244). He's coached his team to the playoffs 16 times in 18 full NHL seasons. … Noel Acciari, F: The 27-year-old signed a three-year contract July 1 after emerging as a valuable fourth-line forward for the Boston Bruins during their run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. … Anton Stralman, D: The 32-year-old signed a three-year contract July 1 and could pair with 25-year-old Mike Matheson. Stralman averaged 21:47 of ice time the past three seasons with the Lightning with fewer than 30 giveaways in each. … Brett Connolly, F: The 27-year-old agreed to terms on a four-year contract July 1 after scoring an NHL career-high 22 goals for the Washington Capitals last season. All but one came at even strength, which will help the Panthers, who scored 162 goals at 5-on-5, tied for 16th with the New York Islanders.

Video: Bobrovsky on signing seven-year deal with Panthers

 

Key departures

Roberto Luongo, G: The 40-year-old retired June 26 with 489 wins in 19 seasons, third in NHL history behind Martin Brodeur (691) and Patrick Roy (551). His 1,044 games played are second among goalies to Brodeur (1,266) and his 77 shutouts are ninth. Luongo was 18-16-5 with a 3.12 GAA, .899 save percentage and one shutout in 43 games (40 starts) last season. … Bob Boughner, coach: Was fired April 7 after going 80-62-22 in two seasons without a playoff appearance. … James Reimer, G: Traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for goalie Scott Darling and a sixth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft on June 30 after going 13-12-5 with a 3.09 GAA and .900 save percentage in 36 games.

 

On the cusp

Sam Montembeault, G: The 22-year-old is projected to back up Bobrovsky after going 4-3-2 with a 3.05 GAA and .894 save percentage in 11 games last season. … Owen Tippett, F: The No. 10 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft had one goal in seven games with the Panthers in 2017-18 before being returned to the Ontario Hockey League. The 20-year-old had 74 points (33 goals, 41 assists) in 54 OHL games with Mississauga and Saginaw last season. … Serron Noel, F: The 18-year-old, chosen in the second round (No. 34) of the 2018 NHL Draft, had 81 points (34 goals, 47 assists) in 68 games with Oshawa of the OHL. He agreed to terms on a three-year, entry-level contract March 8.

Video: NYI@FLA: Montembeault turns away tricky deflection

 

What they still need

The defense has to complement an offense that set a Panthers record with 264 goals last season. Their 273 goals allowed was the most in Florida history.

 

Fantasy focus

Bobrovsky has the most wins (115) and shutouts (21) and is second in save percentage (.922) in the NHL during the past three seasons (minimum 100 games). The Panthers' .891 save percentage was the second-worst in the NHL (San Jose Sharks, .889). The addition of Bobrovsky and hiring of Quenneville makes the Panthers as likely as any of last season's non-playoff teams to make it this time around, so fantasy owners should reach for Bobrovsky among the top three goalies and top 25 overall players. -- Pete Jensen

 Video: BOS@CBJ, Gm6: Bobrovsky's big save on 2-on-0 chance

 

Projected lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov -- Evgenii Dadonov

Mike Hoffman -- Vincent Trocheck -- Owen Tippett

Frank Vatrano -- Henrik Borgstrom -- Brett Connolly

Colton Sceviour -- Noel Acciari -- Jayce Hawryluk

Keith Yandle -- Aaron Ekblad

Mike Matheson -- Anton Stralman

Mark Pysyk -- Josh Brown

Sergei Bobrovsky

Sam Montembeault

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