**Rating system for “Plus/Minus” Series**
+3 = Major Upgrade
+2 = Upgrade
+1 = Slight Upgrade
0 = Same as prior year
-1 = Slight Dowgrade
-2 = Downgrade
-3 = Major Downgrade
Team: Florida Panthers
2010-11: 72 points, #15 in Eastern Conference
Returning: Scott Clemmensen
Arrivals: Jose Theodore
Departures: Tomas Vokoun
Panthers fans can be as optimistic as they want, but going from Vokoun to Jose Theodore is a major step backwards. Both played on bad teams last year, yet Vokoun’s numbers were much better than Theodore’s.
Returning: Dmitry Kulikov, Keaton Ellerby, Jason Garrison, Mike Weaver
Arrivals: Brian Campbell, Ed Jovanovski, Erik Gudbranson
Departures: Joe Callahan, Alexander Sulzer
Florida has completely altered the look of their defense, and that’s certainly in a good way. Say what you want about Campbell and Jovanovski with respect to their ridiculous salaries, but both are very capable top 4 defensemen. Not to mention, they will also benefit from the addition of blue chip prospect Erik Gudbranson, who will also step right into the Panthers top 4.
Returning: Stephen Weiss, David Booth, Evgeni Dadonov, Jack Skille, Mike Santorelli, Shawn Matthias
Arrivals: Tomas Fleischmann, Scottie Upshall, Kris Versteeg, Sean Bergenheim, Tomas Kopecky, Marcel Goc, Matt Bradley
Departures: Rostislav Olesz, Marty Reasoner, Sergei Samsonov, Niclas Bergfors, Steve Bernier, Darcy Hordichuk
No one can argue that the Panthers made significant upgrades to their forward group. They will be a much more exciting team to watch, and certainly more competitive. I do have one big problem with what they did – they threw big money at a bunch of second and third line players, and they signed them to long-term deals. They have better forward prospects than any team in the league, but they may have to wait a long time before they can see big minutes in the NHL.
OVERALL RATING: +3
2011-12 Prediction: #12-#14 in Eastern Conference
Yes, the Panthers improved on paper, but like the Ottawa Senators, their moves are just not significant enough to vault over the other improving teams in the Eastern Conference.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.