Florida Panthers: Will Scrap Heap Pickups Make A Difference?
The Florida Panthers haven’t exactly done a lot to inspire confidence for their fanbase this summer. A team that finished at or near the bottom of the league in almost every statistical category last season will rely largely on their youth and a bunch of scrap heap pickups to improve their record this season.
Many of the moves that the Panthers made this summer, outside of retaining players, have come in the past couple of weeks. Outside of signing Scott Gomez, the Panthers didn’t do much of anything, indicating that Dale Tallon was relying more on health and youth to allow a rebound.
Recently, however, Tallon has been much more active out on the market, signing several veterans, some of which were surprisingly still available, to one-year deals. Whether or not any of them are able to make much of a different, though, remains to be seen.
The veteran additions made by Tallon recently include goaltender Tim Thomas, defensemen Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney, and forward Brad Boyes. Each presents a certain degree of benefit to the Panthers, but their impact will likely be limited.
Thomas is intriguing because he’s only a couple of years removed from winning a Stanley Cup. He’s a veteran presence that the Panthers lacked in goal behind Jacob Markstrom. His signing actually made plenty of sense, from a variety of angles.
Gilbert and Whitney are solid depth additions. Gilbert actually presents more value than many realize, and as much of a pylon as Whitney may actually be, he should be just fine in a limited role. Boyes is actually the most intriguing, coming off of a very good year in Long Island. Not playing next to John Tavares will likely lead to a regression though.
The Panthers are not Stanley Cup contenders. However, just one year removed from a playoff appearance, it’s hard to completely dismiss them and assume they’ll be as bad as they were in 2013. They have a nice group of young players, and while their recent scrap heap pickups won’t put them over the top, they do at least make them marginally better, and a team to at least keep an eye on this season.