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Team Reset

Panthers strengthen offense with Hoffman, defense with Kiselevich

Florida signs veterans after missing playoffs by one point last season

by Alain Poupart / NHL.com Correspondent

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 wanted to get more balance on offense this offseason, and they're hoping they found it with forward Mike Hoffman.

The acquisition of Hoffman in a trade from the San Jose Sharks on June 19 filled one of the few needs for the Panthers, who were among the best teams in the NHL in the second half of last season. Hoffman comes to Florida after averaging 26 goals with the Ottawa Senators over the past four seasons.

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

The Panthers missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs by one point and joined the 2014-15 Boston Bruins as the only teams in NHL history to finish with at least 96 points and not qualify for the postseason. Florida had 52 points (25-8-2) from Jan. 30 through the end of the regular season, tied with the Nashville Predators for most in the NHL in that span. 

Every player who finished with at least 20 points last season remains on the Panthers roster, and the same goes for the seven defensemen who saw playing time.

Here is what the Panthers look like today:

 

Key arrivals

Mike Hoffman, F: The 28-year-old was acquired along with a seventh-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft in a trade from San Jose for fourth- and fifth-round selections in 2018 and a second-round choice in the 2019 NHL Draft. Hoffman first was traded from the Senators to the Sharks before being sent from San Jose to Florida hours later. He will bolster Florida's top six and provide power-play help. He scored eight power-play goals last season, more than anybody on the Panthers other than Vincent Trocheck (13). … Bogdan Kiselevich, D: The 28-year-old signed a one-year contract with the Panthers on June 1 after playing nine seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League. A solid two-way defenseman who was a KHL All-Star last season, Kiselevich brings a steadying presence and likely will be among the top four. … Michael Hutchinson, G: The 28-year-old signed a one-year contract as an unrestricted free agent July 1 after playing five seasons for the Winnipeg Jets. Hutchinson likely will be playing for Springfield of the American Hockey League as the third NHL goalie behind Roberto Luongo and James Reimer.

 

Key departures

Radim Vrbata, F: He is the biggest name gone from the roster, but the reality is he contributed little in his only season with the Panthers (five goals, nine assists in 42 games) and was a healthy scratch for all but one of the final 17 games. The 37-year-old announced his retirement April 8. … Harri Sateri, G: He signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings as a UFA on July 1. The 28-year-old goalie made his NHL debut in relief of Reimer against the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 2 and made seven starts. Though he didn't play after Feb. 9, Sateri was the starter for the four victories that began Florida's 25-8-2 run to end the season.

 

On the cusp

Henrik Borgstrom, F: The No. 23 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft will look to earn the third center job in training camp after making his NHL debut last season. He played in four games and scored his first NHL goal in the season finale against the Bruins after he had 52 points (23 goals, 29 assists) in 40 games in his final season at the University of Denver. Borgstrom, who turns 21 on Aug. 6, could help provide the offensive balance the Panthers were missing last season. … Owen Tippett, F: The No. 10 selection in the 2017 NHL Draft will battle for one of the roster spots among a deep group of forwards. Tippett, 19, played seven games with the Panthers at the start of last season and scored his first NHL goal Oct. 26 against the Anaheim Ducks but was sent back to Mississauga of the Ontario Hockey League to work on his defense.

Video: FLA@BOS: Borgstrom nets first NHL goal

 

What they still need

The Panthers' only transactions July 1 were signing Hutchinson and re-signing center Jared McCann to a two-year contract, an indication they're satisfied with their roster. General manager Dale Tallon said after last season the objectives were to add a veteran defenseman and a scoring wing, and the Panthers did those things with the signing of Kiselevich and the trade for Hoffman. Tallon said his approach after July 1 would be to wait to see if a need developed. "If we need something, we'll see what's available and go from there," he said. "But I'm confident in our young team. I'm confident in our depth chart. I'm confident in our young players. I'm confident we have guys in our system that can come up and play valuable minutes for us."

 

Fantasy focus

The Panthers are expected to have three strong lines, two potent power-play units and three fantasy-relevant defensemen (Keith Yandle, Aaron Ekblad, Mike Matheson), so their goalies are arguably the most attractive pair in the NHL from a fantasy standpoint. Luongo, 39, had a .929 save percentage (.933 at even strength) and three shutouts in 35 games last season, and Reimer, 30, had a .913 SV% (.914 at even strength) and four shutouts in 44 games. The Panthers were tied with the Colorado Avalanche for sixth in team save percentage (.914) last season and could be a dark horse in the Eastern Conference, even in a tough Atlantic Division with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and Bruins. Luongo is attainable in the ninth or 10th round, and Reimer should be around for one of your final picks. Luongo and Reimer each will get plenty of work with the Panthers having 17 back-to-back sets (tied for most in NHL). -- Pete Jensen

Video: FLA@OTT: Ekblad finishes great effort for PPG

 

Projected lineup

Evgenii Dadonov -- Aleksander Barkov -- Nick Bjugstad

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Vincent Trocheck -- Mike Hoffman

Frank Vatrano -- Henrik Borgstrom -- Denis Malgin

Jamie McGinn -- Derek MacKenzie -- Colton Sceviour

Mike Matheson -- Aaron Ekblad

Keith Yandle -- Bogdan Kiselevich

MacKenzie Weegar -- Mark Pysyk

Roberto Luongo

James Reimer

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