After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2022-2023 regular season, which starts Oct. 7. Today, the Florida Panthers:
2021-22 season: 58-18-6, first in Atlantic Division; lost in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs
Matthew TkachukF: The 24-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Calgary Flames on Friday for forward Jonathan Huberdeau and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar; the restricted free agent agreed to an eight-year contract with the Panthers following the trade. He scored an NHL career-high 104 points (42 goals, 62 assists) last season and 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games. … Colin WhiteF: The 25-year-old signed a one-year contract July 13 after having 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 24 games with the Ottawa Senators last season. … Marc StaalD: The 35-year-old signed a one-year contract July 13 after having 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in 71 games with the Detroit Red Wings. … Nick CousinsF: The 29-year-old signed a two-year contract on July 13; he had 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 68 games with the Nashville Predators. … Rudolfs BalcersF: The 25-year-old signed a one-year contract July 14; he had 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in 61 games with the San Jose Sharks. … Paul Maurice, coach: The 55-year-old was hired June 22 to replace Andrew Brunette. Maurice ranks seventh in NHL history with 775 wins and fourth in games coached with 1,684. He’s 775-680-130 with 99 ties through 24 seasons with the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets; he resigned as Winnipeg coach Dec. 17 during his ninth season there, saying, “They need a new voice.”
Video: Tkachuk traded to Panthers for Huberdeau, picks
Jonathan Huberdeau, F: Had an NHL career-high 115 points in 80 games last season, including leading the NHL with 85 assists. He had five points (one goal, four assists) in 10 playoff games. … MacKenzie Weegar, D: Had 44 points (eight goals, 36 assists) in 80 games and one assist in 10 playoff games. … Claude GirouxF: Signed a three-year contract with the Senators on July 13 after he had 65 points (21 goals, 44 assists) in 75 games with the Philadelphia Flyers and Panthers and eight points (three goals, five assists) in 10 playoff games. … Mason MarchmentF: Signed a four-year contract with the Dallas Stars on July 13 following an NHL career-high 47 points (18 goals, 29 assists) in 54 games and one goal in four playoff games. … Ben ChiarotD: Signed a four-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings on July 13 after having 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in 74 games with the Montreal Canadiens and Florida, and one assist in 10 playoff games.
On the cusp
Grigori DenisenkoF: The 22-year-old, the No. 15 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, has four assists in eight games through two seasons with the Panthers. He had 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 30 games with Charlotte of the American Hockey League last season. …Anton LevtchiF: The 26-year-old signed a one-year, entry-level contract June 14 after leading all scorers in Liiga, the top professional league in Finland, with 61 points (26 goals 35 assists) in 55 games with Tappara. … Logan HutskoF: The 23-year-old, a third-round pick (No. 89) in the 2018 draft, had 38 points (10 goals, 28 assists) in 71 AHL games. … Aleksi HeponiemiF: The 23-year-old, selected in the second round (No. 40) of the 2017 NHL Draft, has three points (one goal, two assists) in 15 games through two seasons with Florida, and had 39 points (nine goals, 30 assists) in 56 AHL games last season.
What they still need
The acquisition of Tkachuk will fill a huge hole offensively after the loss of Giroux and Marchment and an Achilles injury to forward Anthony Duclair, who is expected to miss the first half of the season. The Panthers will also need to find a more equitable way to split time between goalies Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight. Last season, Bobrovsky, 33, played 54 regular-season games and 10 playoff games, compared to 32 regular-season games and two playoff games for Knight, 21, the No. 13 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
They said it
“There is a lot of good here. I think when you look at historical teams; there are a number of powerful teams and Florida is now one of them. If you want to go back to Detroit in the mid-90s, Pittsburgh [Penguins]Tampa Bay [Lightning] a few years ago… the talent comes first, and it needs to be developed and gotten to a certain level. Then there is the next phase, and it is not necessarily measured by regular-season points or goals for.” — Panthers coach Paul Maurice
Even after the addition of elite wing Tkachuk, the Panthers will have multiple top-nine forward spots up for grabs. Heponiemi and Denisenko each could end up in the mix and each is worth monitoring in keeper and dynasty leagues. Each made an impact for Charlotte of the AHL last season and is a fantasy rookie sleeper for this season, even if they end up being third-liners. — Pete Jensen
Matthew Tkachuk — Alexander Barkov — Sam Reinhart
Carter Verhaeghe — Sam Bennett — Colin White
Anton Levtchi — Anton Lundell — Rudolfs Balcers
Nick Cousins – Eetu Luostarinen — Patrick Hornqvist
Gustav Forsling — Aaron Ekblad
Brandon Montour — Radko Gudas
Marc Staal — Lucas Carlsson
Injured: Anthony Duclair