The Florida Panthers are absolutely all-in. They made big moves this off-season, and want nothing less than a Stanley Cup Championship. After earning the Presidents’ Trophy and having the best record in the league last season, the ending was not quite as planned. Let’s breakdown what to expect from the 2022-23 Florida Panthers.
The Panthers have had a lot of movement with their roster this off-season. They watched key players like Claude Giroux, Noel Acciari, and Mason Marchment walk in free agency. Ben Chiarot and Robert Hagg also left via free agency. However, the biggest departures from the roster were Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar, who were dealt to the Calgary Flames in a blockbuster deal.
The deal that shook up the off-season landed the Panthers Matthew Tkachuk and a mid-round pick for Huberdeau, Weegar, a prospect, and a 1st-round pick. The rest of their additions include Colin White, Rudolfs Balcers, Nick Cousins, and Marc Staal. It will definitely be a new look roster in 2022-23, although they have a lot of talent returning as well. There aren’t really any major prospects expected to make the jump to the NHL roster this season.
These projected lines come from Daily Faceoff where they update projected lines year round for all of your favorite NHL teams. You can check the Panther’s projected lines here. Here is how the lines look as of today:
Carter Verhaeghe – Aleksander Barkov – Matthew Tkachuk
Rudolfs Balcers – Sam Bennett – Sam Reinhart
Nick Cousins – Anton Lundell – Colin White
Ryan Lomberg – Eetu Luostarinen – Patric Hornqvist
Gustav Forsling – Aaron Ekblad
Lucas Carlsson – Radko Gudas
Marc Staal – Brandon Montour
Everybody knows how good Barkov is, but Verhaeghe will be jumping on the top line this season and should take a big jump forward from a production stand point. The biggest change comes with the new addition of Tkachuk. The Sam bros are joined by a newcomer in Balcers. Duclair is out for a few months with an Achilles injury, but he will likely replace Balcers on this line, depending on how well they are playing together.
The rookie phenom, Lundell is joined by two new players in Cousins and White. That line should be very solid, but not spectacular. The bottom line has the biggest question mark of the forward group. This line is headlined by the vet, Hornqvist, but they still may not be up for the task. Forsling had a really solid season a year ago next to Ekblad, so the top defensive pairing should be very good.
Gudas is a long-time vet and stable defensemen, but Carlsson has struggled to stay with an NHL team most of his career. This will be his fourth season seeing NHL action, but he has played just 58 games, including 40 last year. I like their third line a lot with Staal and Montour pairing for the last line. They will contribute on the penalty kill and pull the weight for this team.
Between the pipes, you have two elite goalies. Sergei Bobrovsky, the two-time Vezina Trophy winner, starts, but the former first-round pick, Spencer Knight is coming for his job as he continues to develop and get better. It is a really solid group heading into 2022-23.
Points: 1-Matthew Tkachuk (108), 2-Aleksander Barkov (105), 3-Sam Reinhart (78)
Goals: 1-Aleksander Barkov (47), 2-Matthew Tkachuk (41), 3-Sam Reinhart (30)
Assists: 1-Matthew Tkachuk (67), 2-Aleksander Barkov (58), 3-Aaron Ekblad (56)
It is clear how stacked the top of this division is with this Panthers team as well as the Leafs and Lightning. It can shake out any way with these three, but my prediction is they will be the 2-seed. I like the Leafs team this year and think they will be the beasts of the East, but the Panthers should be right behind them for that moniker. It will be awesome to watch those top teams faceoff all season.
The Panthers season should come to a better end than a year ago. To do so, they’ll have to beat the likes of the Lightning, assuming my prediction that they’ll be the 2-seed comes true. I think this team has the firepower to beat a team like the Lightning, but I do see them being halted by the Leafs in round two. Regardless of what I think, the games get played for a reason and this season can go all sorts of ways for those top teams in the Atlantic Division. Panthers will be a fun team to watch in 2022-23. That much we know for sure.