Good morning and welcome to "Cats & Coffee," a weekly segment, presented by Koffee Kult, in which we serve up an exciting look at what's on deck for your Florida Panthers. Like our friends at Koffee Kult, this forecast serves up only the best -- so sit back, sip and enjoy our latest brew of news, notes and information!
If you broke down the hockey season geographically, this time period would be the Sahara.
It's been a month since the draft. The initial big splashes of free agency were all made about three weeks ago. Development camp came and went, the last on-ice action until September.
Still, there's some fun to enjoy if you're a Panthers fan now that the dust has settled.
With most teams around the NHL having already shown their hands and executed their biggest moves of the summer, experts from media outlets around the league are now coming out of the woodwork to do what they do best - declare the offseason's biggest winners and losers thus far.
In a debate among nine writers published Sunday on NHL.com, four picked the Panthers as the team that improved the most since the 2018-19 season officially came to an end. Of the moves that garnered the most praise, the signing of two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky and the hiring of three-time Stanley Cup winning head coach Joel Quenneville were paramount.
"They weren't just flashy; they filled specific needs," wrote NHL.com staff writer Nick Cotsonika. Florida was ninth in goals (3.22 per game) and second on the power play (26.8 percent) last season. The problem was keeping the puck out of the net, even though the Panthers were 10th on the penalty kill (81.3 percent). Their 5-on-5 save percentage was tied for 29th (.907). Quenneville will bring structure. Bobrovsky will bring saves."
As Cotsonika pointed out, the Panthers excelled in the goal-scoring department last season.
For the first time in franchise history, the team featured three 30-goal scorers in Mike Hoffman (36), Aleksander Barkov (35) and Jonathan Huberdeau (30). Barkov and Huberdeau also each eclipsed the lofty 90-point plateau, including a single-season franchise record 96 from Barkov.
Now that they've rounded out that core by adding one of the league's top goalies, a future Hall of Fame coach and a handful of playoff-tested veterans, NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen doesn't mince words when looking ahead to 2019-20. He believes Florida is a playoff team.
"Excuse me for jumping on the bandwagon with other colleagues, but the free agents must have brought their sunscreen as general manager Dale Tallon suggested because this has been a terrific offseason for Florida," Rosen wrote. "Quenneville gives the Panthers instant credibility behind the bench, and Bobrovsky does the same in goal. That's a heck of a 1-2 punch to start with, but that's not where they're starting; the Panthers already had a core of talented players who have underperformed.
"With Quenneville and Bobrovsky, Florida has two of the most important parts of the game covered. The Panthers then added layers by signing Connolly, Acciari and Stralman. That's a 20-goal scorer and Stanley Cup champion, a shutdown forward and a veteran defenseman with big-game experience. Now Florida is talented, deep and experienced with elite goaltending and Hall of Fame coaching. The Panthers are a playoff team. Book it."
To read more from this offseason debate, check out the full article on NHL.com.
TIME TO GET YOUR TICKETS
If reading the above section didn't get you excited for the upcoming season, nothing will.
With just over two months to go until the Panthers open up their highly-anticipated campaign against the cross-state rival Lightning on Oct. 3 in Tampa Bay, everything from groups and suites to season and single-game ticket packages for all 82 games are currently on sale now.
And while all of those options are great, full season tickets do come with the following perks:
• Exclusive Concession Pricing on Select Items
• 25% Merchandise Discount in Pantherland
• Discounted General Parking
• Priority Access to BB&T Center Concerts and Events
• Exclusive Season Ticket Holder Events
As I said before, this is a season you're not going to want to miss! For ticket information, click HERE to find our more info or call 954-835 PUCK (7825)!
READING TOUR ARRIVES IN CORAL SPRINGS
The Summer Reading Tour is approaching the halfway point!
In conjunction with Broward County Libraries, the Panthers will make one stop on their second-annual tour this week, visiting the Northwest Regional Library in Coral Springs Friday, July 26. The fun-filled event is set to run from 1-4 p.m. and will feature a guest reader and games.
This past week, Panthers radio play-by-play man Doug Plagens came out to read.
With 10 total stops currently scheduled from June through August, future dates and more information regarding this year's tour can be found at FloridaPanthers.com/ReadingTour.
CATS CLIP OF THE WEEK
The Panthers are treating members of nine Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County to the "Learn to Skate" program.
Video: Boys and Girls Club Learn To Skate
CATS IN THE COMMUNITY
It was all about development camp on the latest episode of the Territory Talk podcast. Who stood out? Who said what? Tune in to find out.
COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)
-- Sergei Bobrovsky has his eyes set on a Stanley Cup.
-- After three summers of floorball, Boys & Girls Club members are making the jump to the ice.
-- The Panthers signed goaltender Sam Montembeault to a one-year, two-way contract.
-- Spencer Knight doesn't want to be labeled as just a first-round pick.
-- Florida inked three forwards - including Jayce Hawryluk -- to one-year, two-way contracts.
-- Serron Noel wants to "turn some heads" at training camp.
--The Panthers signed forwards Anthony Greco and Dominic Toninato to one-year, two-way contracts.